This weekend, Dextre is busy replacing two faulty circuit-breaker boxes on the orbiting lab to restore part of the International Space Station backup electrical systems.
Known by the technical term "Remote Power Control Modules (RPCMs)," circuit-breaker boxes control the flow of electricity through the Station's secondary power distribution system, and tend to fail occasionally. Astronauts used to change the boxes during spacewalks, which always carries a certain level of risk. Dextre was designed to reduce the need for astronauts to conduct spacewalks for routine maintenance, therefore freeing up the crew's time for more important activities, like conducting science.
After being installed on board the International Space Station (ISS) by Canadarm2 on April 16, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is ready for its first test. The crew of the ISS will open up the valves between the Station and the module to allow it to expand to its full size.
Mission controllers at NASA's Johnson Space Center and at the Canadian Space Agency will use Canadarm2's cameras to monitor BEAM's inflation and help determine when it is fully deployed.
You can watch BEAM's expansion, too. Live coverage begins on NASA TV at 5:30 a.m. EDT (2:30 PDT) on May 26.
SpaceX's Dragon resupply ship on the end of Canadarm2. (Credit: NASA)
Canadarm2 to release Dragon from the International Space Station
In the early hours of May 11, robotics controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will position Canadarm2 for European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake to release Dragon around 9:18 a.m. EDT (6:18 a.m. PDT).
Dragon is currently the only US spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, and will bring back samples for science experiments. The spacecraft will splash down in the Pacific Ocean around 2:55 p.m. EDT (11:55 a.m. PDT).
Unparalleled parking at the International Space Station (Credits: ESA, NASA)
Unparalleled parking at the International Space Station
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake took this photo of a new record for the International Space Station: the first time two US commercial vehicles are docked at the same time. Canadarm2 captured and installed SpaceX's Dragon (left) on April 10, 2016, and Orbital ATK's Cygnus (right) on March 26, 2016. In addition to Cygnus and Dragon, there are also two Russian Soyuz and two Progress vehicles for a total of six visiting vehicles.
Using Space to Fight Cardiovascular Disease with Astronaut Tim Peake (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)
Cardiovascular Health in Space with Astronaut Tim Peake
Did you know that during a six-month space mission, an astronaut's cardiovascular system can age by up to 10 or 20 years?
The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake will take part in the Canadian experiment Vascular Echo aboard the International Space Station (ISS) that will examine changes in heart and blood vessels of astronauts in space.
Canadarm2 will attach the First Expandable Module to the ISS (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)
Canadarm2 Will Attach the First Expandable Module to the ISS
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft on April 8, 2016. Once it is attached to the ISS by Canadarm2, BEAM will expand in volume, enabling crew members to enter it to conduct periodic testing during a two-year period.
If successful, this expandable technology could increase habitable area and lower costs for future space exploration missions.
Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson looks through a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station (ISS). (Credit: NASA)
Canada's At Home in Space experiment begins on the ISS
The crew on board the ISS has conducted the first space session of the Canadian experiment, At Home in Space.
Funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), this study assesses how astronauts develop a shared culture during long-duration missions. Dr. Phyllis J. Johnson, University of British Columbia, is the principal investigator for the experiment.
Benefits for people on Earth
There are many communities on Earth that share some of the characteristics of a crew living in a space capsule, and whose functioning could be improved by our findings, including:
the elderly, especially those in group housing, assisted living centres, or nursing homes;
people living in remote, confined, and isolated environments (e.g., resource extraction camps, oil rigs, long-voyage tankers, cargo ships, and the Arctic and Antarctic); and
those whose employment is dangerous and requires periodic absences from family (e.g., military deployments).
TBone - Effects of Microgravity on Bones with Astronaut Tim Peake (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA, ESA)
TBone: How does space affect our bones?
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake explains how the Canadian experiment TBone will study the effects of microgravity on bone health to benefit astronauts and people on Earth.
Pre-flight sessions of TBone are being conducted at the NASA Johnson Space Center on March 30 and 31, 2016.
Dr. Steven K. Boyd of the University of Calgary is leading this research project on how weightlessness affects the internal structure of bones. Since spaceflight is an excellent model for understanding bone loss due to immobilization or menopause, TBone will help better understand and identify those at risk, and could lead to individualized treatment strategies.
Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA, University of Ottawa
MARROW: Studying the effects of ageing and immobility in space
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake is taking part in the Canadian experiment MARROW that will study the effects of ageing and immobility in microgravity. This will benefit astronauts and people on Earth who are bedridden or who have reduced mobility.
A sophisticated new vision system for the ISS's robotic helper
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has commissioned the design of an advanced vision system for Dextre, the International Space Station's (ISS's) robotic handyman. Dextre will use the new hand-held tool to inspect the external surfaces of the orbiting laboratory and sleuth out signs of damage caused by natural ageing and by small meteorites and orbital debris that regularly hit the Station.
Roughly the size of a microwave oven, the vision system combines a 3D laser, a high-definition camera and an infrared camera to reveal damage that (in some cases) is hidden to the naked eye and in places that are hard to reach or difficult to see in the harsh lighting conditions on board the ISS.
The vision system will be operated by mission controllers on the ground at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, or at the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. Imagery generated by the system will be available to the public, who will see the ISS as they have never seen it before.
The vision system is currently being designed by Neptec Design Group Ltd. of Ottawa and will be launched to the ISS in 2020.