Canadarm2 is part of Canada's contribution to the International Space Station (ISS). This 17-metre-long robotic arm was extensively involved in the assembly of the orbiting laboratory.
This Canadian robotic arm lends a helping hand to:
- perform Station maintenance
- move supplies, equipment, Dextre and even astronauts
- perform "
cosmic catches" by grappling visiting vehicles and berthing them to the ISS
Animation of Canadarm2 catching and berthing SpaceX's Dragon
All three elements are essential for many maintenance tasks and regular operations.
How Canadarm2 works
Each end of Canadarm2 features an identical "
hand," known as a Latching End Effector. These pieces contain cables that tighten to ensure a strong grip. They allow the robotic arm to firmly grasp objects or latch itself to the Station.
How Canadarm2 moves on the Station
Canadarm2 can easily be commanded to move wherever it needs to go around the ISS. Each of its ends can be used as an anchor point while the other carries out various tasks.
The anchoring end must be secured to a power data grapple fixture. These fixtures are located at a number of key points on the Station's outer structure.
Each grapple fixture provides:
- the power the arm needs to operate
- a data connection
- a video connection
Canadarm2 can walk end-over-end, connecting to these fixtures as it travels along the exterior of the ISS.
Canadarm2 is tremendously strong. It can handle loads of as much as 116,000 kg—the weight of eight school buses!
Canadarm2 is made up of parts that can be replaced while in space. If components wear out or fail, they can be swapped out individually.
- In , one of Canadarm2's wrist roll joints was replaced by a spacewalking astronaut.
- In and , astronauts gave the space robot a new set of Latching End Effectors, or "
The robotic arm was designed to be refurbished in orbit because this far-out Canadian technology will never return to Earth.
Canadian robots Canadarm2 and Dextre have led to the development of many technologies that benefit our lives here on the blue planet:
Who controls Canadarm2?
Canadarm2 can be controlled by astronauts on board the ISS. It can also be operated by the ground team at the CSA headquarters or NASA.
Who built Canadarm2?
Inspired by the original Canadarm, Canadarm2 was built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, based in Brampton, Ontario. Canadarm2's journey from design to deployment culminated in its launch to the ISS in .
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