How Dextre Works: No astronauts required!

Dextre was originally designed to be operated by astronauts from inside the International Space Station (ISS). However, just months after the multi-talented Canadian robot was launched in 2008, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) if Dextre could be operated from mission control centres on Earth in order to give the crew on the ISS more time for other activities.

The CSA then revised Dextre's software and worked with NASA to come up with a series of tests (called On-Orbit Checkout Requirements) that would ensure that Dextre could be safely operated from the ground. In July 2010, Dextre completed the last of these major checkout exercises, and was fully certified for ISS duty.

Dextre is programmed by Canadian robotics planners at the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, who prepare the robotic handyman's activities and the software he needs to get the job done. Dextre is operated by robotics controllers both at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston and from the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert.

Danielle Cormier, a Canadian flight controller monitors robotics operations on the International Space Station (ISS) from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) mission control centre. (Credit: CSA)