Dextre successfully completes its first task

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) wraps up a week of intensive robotics on the International Space Station (ISS)

Longueuil, Quebec, February 4, 2011 – Dextre, the CSA's robotic handyman aboard the ISS, successfully completed its first official task early this morning after unpacking two critical pieces of equipment ferried to the Station by Japan's Kounotori2 spacecraft—the space equivalent of a moving van.

While riding on the end of Canadarm2, Dextre unbolted a spare Flex Hose Rotary Coupler (part of the ISS's cooling system) and placed it on its tool storage platform (also known by the technical term, the Enhanced Orbital Replacement Unit Temporary Platform, or EOTP). Next, Dextre unfastened the Cargo Transfer Container, which will remain in the robot's specialized "hands" until the Express Logistics Carrier 4 stowage platform can be installed on the Station during the upcoming STS-133 mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery. The operations marked Dextre's first scheduled task since the robot was commissioned in December 2010. Canadarm2 will return Dextre to its perch on the ISS later this evening.

"There were a few times tonight when Dextre's human operators had to recalibrate as we zeroed in on our target," says Tim Braithwaite, the CSA's representative at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. "This seems to be the result of the Station's structure itself flexing, effectively making a moving target for the ground operator to grasp. It's a bit like standing on the end of a dive board at the pool, and using a long skimmer to scoop a tennis ball that keeps bouncing about in choppy water. We know from our early checkout sessions that Dextre's arms are stable and precisely controllable; however, when the target is literally drifting before the camera, it poses a unique challenge for our operators. Tonight, though, the team put their experience to good use, and Dextre went on to deliver a flawless performance."

Dextre's operations capped an intensive week for Canadian robotics on the ISS. On January 27, Canadarm2 made a "cosmic catch" when it reached out and grasped the free-flying Kounotori2 spacecraft and docked it to the ISS. The Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm then removed Kounotori2's Exposed Pallet (a transportation rack that slides out of the spacecraft like a drawer) from the external cargo trunk. On February 1, Canadarm2 transferred the pallet to the Japanese robotic arm on the ISS's Kibo module. Canadarm2 and the Japanese robotic arm will work together again on February 7 to return the pallet to Kounotori2's trunk.

About the CSA

Established in 1989, the CSA coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. The CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: Earth Observation, Space Science and Exploration, Satellite Communications and Space Awareness and Learning. The Agency conducts its activities through three key business lines: Space Utilization: serving the needs of Government Departments; Space Exploration: positioning Canadian science and technology to advantage in future international space exploration missions; and Space Science and Technology: which drives synergy and builds capacity in academia, industry and government to respond to the current and future needs of the Canadian Space Program. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.

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