Dextre, Space Electrician: Canadian Robot Repairs Components on the Space Station
Longueuil, Quebec, August 30, 2011 – Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) robotic handyman aboard the International Space Station (ISS), has successfully replaced a faulty circuit-breaker box on the orbiting lab. The robot swapped the failed component for a fresh one, thereby restoring part of the orbiting lab's backup electrical systems. The maneuver marks the first time Dextre replaces defective equipment on the Station.
Known by the technical term "Remote Power Control Modules (RPCMs)," circuit-breaker boxes control the flow of electricity through the ISS's secondary power distribution system, and tend to fail occasionally. Up to now, exchanging the boxes was done by spacewalkers, 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.
Canadarm2 supported Dextre during the entire operation, which took place on August 28-29. Dextre was operated from the groundbotics flight controllers at National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and supported by several teams of engineers both in Houston and at the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.
While the robotic handyman remains on-call for duty if any issues arise, Dextre also has a full list of scheduled tasks. Later this week, the Canadian-built robot will relocate two small storage pallets from their current location the robot's workbench to the Express Logistics Carrier 4 on the ISS. One of the pallets carries the equipment for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), Dextre's first research and development project to test the technologies and techniques necessary to refuel satellites in flight.
About the CSA
Established in 1989, the CSA coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: Earth Observation, Space Science and Exploration, Satellite Communications, and Space Awareness and Learning. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.
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