"Innovate or get left behind", it's more than a catch phrase. Innovation is key to a thriving economy and one need look no further than Canada for an example and the tenth anniversary of Canadarm2 illustrates this. Chris Hadfield was one of two astronauts who installed Canadarm2 back in 2001 during the first Canadian spacewalk.
"Building things in space is incredibly complicated. You go from incredible blackness to incredible brightness of the sun in just a few seconds. So the Canadarm has been thrust in the middle of that in order to build the Space Station. It retrieves things from the space shuttle or from Canadarm1 on the shuttle to then manipulate through the incredibly detailed and confusing environment of the three dimensions around the Space Station and then so carefully installing them into the right place onboard."
Built for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) of Brampton, Canadarm2's role will expand as the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) finishes. In addition to all its current work, the arm will make more and more "cosmic catches," a breathtaking move where it reaches out and grasps a spacecraft and docks it to the ISS.
CSA's president, former astronaut Steve MacLean, also the first Canadian to operate Canadarm2 explains the significance of Canada's contribution to the International Space Station.
"Canadarm2 is a great example of Canadian technology leadership. Canadarm2 is at the heart of a series of other manipulators; Canadarm1 and Dextre, that with the construction of the ISS, we have shown ourselves to be more efficient. In addition after Columbia, with the addition of Canadarm Boom Extension and the sensors that go with that, we've also shown that our manipulator operations are making flights safer. This is our legacy."
In addition to allowing our country to send astronauts into space, Canada's investment in the ISS provides opportunities for Canadian scientists on this exceptional orbiting lab to investigate issues that may benefit Canadians in diverse areas such as cardiovascular health, neurology and the science of ageing.
Martin Van Der Woude reporting.