End of the Shuttle Program Final Flight of Atlantis: Canada's Contribution

Note to Editor

Longueuil, Quebec, June 28, 2011 – The final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for July 8, 2011, at 11:26 a.m. EDT. This will be the last mission of the Space Shuttle program.

Atlantis will carry equipment for a new joint National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Canadian Space Agency (CSA) robotic refueling test. The Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) is an external International Space Station (ISS) experiment that will use Dextre, a space robot, to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques engineers on Earth would need to robotically refuel satellites in space—even satellites not designed to be serviced. The test is expected to take place approximately six months after STS-135.

Canadian content aboard Atlantis:

Technology

The TriDAR technology will undergo further testing on board the Space Shuttle. The Triangulation and LIDAR Automated Rendezvous and Docking system provides critical guidance information that can be used to position a vehicle during rendezvous and docking operations. Unlike current technologies, TriDAR does not rely on any reference markers, such as reflectors, positioned on the target spacecraft. It counts on a laser-based 3D sensor and a thermal imager. The TriDAR technology is developed by Neptec Design group with funding from the CSA and NASA.

The TriDAR system's capabilities were successfully demonstrated on previous test flights (STS-128 and STS-131). The third flight of the system is set to continue demonstration of the system's capabilities.

Science

The last Canadian science experiment for the Space Shuttle, Hypersole, will determine changes in human skin sensitivity before and after spaceflight, and whether these changes are related to balance control.

Data from Hypersole is expected to make a significant contribution to existing studies of the aging process and reductions in information relayed by skin sensors that lead to a loss of balance control and, among the elderly especially, a greater incidence of falls. The data will also provide knowledge that benefits astronauts as they perform their flight and post-flight duties.

Education

STS-135 will carry tomato seeds as part of the Tomatosphere project. The seeds, sealed in a plastic bag, will be left on the ISS for up to 36 months in order to be exposed to the on-orbit environment. The tomato seeds will then be brought back to Earth and distributed to participating classrooms so that students can plant them and observe their germination rates.

This project has reached 83,285 classrooms, or approximately 2,040,000 Canadian students, since the seeds were first distributed in 2001.

Fast Facts

  • STS-134 would have marked the end of NASA's Space Shuttle Program, but Atlantis's STS-135 flight was added in order to haul cargo to the ISS and definitively close the Program.

  • This will be the 37th shuttle mission to the ISS and the 135th and final scheduled shuttle flight.

  • STS-135 will mark Canadarm2's 30th shuttle mission since its installation on the ISS, in 2001. By the time STS-135 is over, Canadarm2 will have assisted in 100 spacewalks and unloaded 45 payloads and hundreds of tons of supplies and equipment ferried by the Space Shuttle.

  • Canada has flown nearly 50 science experiments on the Space Shuttle since STS-09 (41A), in 1983, which produced over 220 scientific papers on subjects like: bone loss; back pain; eye-hand coordination; blood pressure; ageing; plant cells development; optics; the ozone layer; machine vision systems; crystal growth; metal diffusion; composite materials resistance and thin film formation.

  • This flight will mark the Canadarm's 90th mission since it first flew on Shuttle Columbia on STS-2, in 1981.

  • Canadian astronauts have flown 14 times on the Space Shuttle.

  • Chris Hadfield and Steve MacLean are the only CSA Astronauts that have flown on Shuttle Atlantis.

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For more information:

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Website: www.asc-csa.gc.ca