European Robotic Arm to Handle the Space Station

The European Robotic Arm is the first robot that can ‘walk’ around the Russian part of the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (ESA PR) — The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is set for launch on a Proton rocket to the International Space Station on 21 July at 16:58 CEST. The first robot that can ‘walk’ around the Russian part of the orbital complex will be launched with the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan.

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Canadarm2 and Dextre Unlock New Level of Autonomy

Canadarm2 and Dextre. (Credit: NASA)

LONGUEIUL, Que. (CSA PR) — Having recently celebrated 20 years on the International Space Station (ISS), Canada’s iconic robotic arm is getting another boost in autonomy.

Originally designed to be controlled by astronauts in space, Canadarm2 was quickly adapted for ground control in its early years. A joint CSA-NASA team of robotics flight controllers now carefully plan and execute most manoeuvres of Canada’s space robots from Houston and Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

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Lucky Strike: Canadarm2 Stays the Course After an Orbital Debris Hit

Debris strike on Canadarm2. (Credit: NASA/Canadian Space Agency)

LONGUEIUL, Que. (CSA PR) — Space can be a harsh and unforgiving environment for the robots and humans that explore it: the hazards are many, from massive temperature swings to radiation and orbital debris.

Over 23,000 objects the size of a softball or larger are tracked 24/7 to detect potential collisions with satellites and the International Space Station (ISS). A number of tiny objects—ranging from rock or dust particles to flecks of paint from satellites—are also too small to be monitored.

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SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Mission to Space Station Launches Water Bears, Squids, Solar Panels

These immature bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) are part of UMAMI, an investigation that examines whether space alters the symbiotic relationship between the squid and the bacterium Vibrio fischeri. (Credits: Jamie S. Foster, University of Florida)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The 22nd SpaceX cargo resupply mission carrying scientific research and technology demonstrations launches to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than June 3. Experiments aboard include studying how water bears tolerate space, whether microgravity affects symbiotic relationships, analyzing the formation of kidney stones, and more.

Highlights of the payloads on this resupply mission include:

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NASA TV to Air First US Commercial Crew Port Relocation on Space Station

Crew Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA webcast)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts aboard the International Space Station will mark another first for commercial spaceflight Monday, April 5, when the four astronauts will relocate the Crew Dragon spacecraft to prepare for the arrival of new crew members in late April and the upcoming delivery of new solar arrays this summer.

Live coverage will begin at 6 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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Canada’s Top Space Highlights of 2020

Credit: Canadian Space Agency

LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — It’s an understatement to say that 2020 was an exceptional year. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the most compelling, inspirational and incredible moments for Canada in space. Happy New Year!

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NASA Television to Air Departure of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus from Space Station

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter approaches the International Space Station where the Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to capture it for docking. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Northrop Grumman’s uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to depart the International Space Station on Wednesday, Jan. 6, more than three months after delivering nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies,  scientific investigations, commercial products, hardware, and other cargo to the orbiting outpost.

Live coverage of the cargo spacecraft’s departure will begin at 9:45 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with release of Cygnus scheduled for 10:10 a.m.

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MDA Announces Contract for Canadarm3

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA announced today that it has been awarded a contract from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop Canadarm3, the third generation Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based robotic system destined for “Gateway”, a lunar-orbiting international space station. The contract involves the award of Phase A of the Canadarm3 program, with options for the follow-on phases.

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Canadian Science Equipment Sent to ISS as Canadarm2 Readies for Duty

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques tries the Bio-Monitor, a new Canadian technology, for the first time in space. The innovative smart shirt system is designed to measure and record astronauts’ vital signs. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

LONGUEIUL, Que. (CSA PR) — On December 6, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center atop a Falcon 9 rocket, headed for the International Space Station (ISS).

In a first for the cargo vehicle, Dragon will dock to the Station autonomously. Station crew previously used Canadarm2 to “catch” Dragon and berth it to one of the Station’s eight ports.

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Cosmic Catch for Canadarm2 as Cygnus Carries Canadian Cargo to the International Space Station

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm, guided by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir with fellow Flight Engineer Christina Koch as her back up, reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on November 4, 2019. (Credits: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (CSA PR) — On September 29, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, headed for the  International Space Station (ISS) – the orbiting science lab that has been continuously inhabited for nearly two decades.

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Japanese Cargo Craft Completes Space Station Mission

The International Space Station is seen on June 30, 2020, orbiting almost directly above Marfa, Texas, on a southeastern orbital trek that would take it over Mexico and across South America. In the foreground, is the “Dextre” fine-tuned robotic hand with Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) behind it. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Eleven years after the launch of the first H-II Transfer cargo vehicle (HTV) to the International Space Station, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) HTV-9 departed the orbital laboratory today at 1:36 p.m. EDT.

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NASA TV to Air Departure of Japanese Cargo Ship from Space Station

The International Space Station is seen on June 30, 2020, orbiting almost directly above Marfa, Texas, on a southeastern orbital trek that would take it over Mexico and across South America. In the foreground, is the “Dextre” fine-tuned robotic hand with Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) behind it. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Eleven years after the launch of the first H-II Transfer cargo vehicle (HTV) to the International Space Station, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) HTV-9 will depart the orbital laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 18, with live coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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Canadarm, Canadarm2, and Canadarm3 – A Comparative Table

Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Canadarm3. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

Canadian Space Agency Fact Sheet

Canadarm
The first Canadian robotic arm to go to space
Canadarm2
Servicing the International Space Station since 2001
Canadarm3Footnote1
An artificial intelligence-based robotic system designed for the Lunar Gateway
LocationInstalled on each Space Shuttle and returned to Earth. Now retired, the Canadarm is on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.Stays permanently in space on board the International Space Station.Will stay permanently in space on board the Lunar Gateway.
Range of motionReach limited to length of arm.Moves end-over-end to reach many parts of the International Space Station, where its anchoring “hand” plugs into a power, data, and video outlet. Because it is mounted on the Mobile Base, the arm can travel the entire length of the Space Station.Will move end-over-end to reach many parts of the Lunar Gateway, where its anchoring “hand” will plug into a power, data, and video outlet. The arm will be able to travel and bring tools to the entire length of the Lunar Gateway.
Fixed jointFixed to the shuttle by one end.No fixed end.No fixed end.
Degrees of freedomSix degrees of freedom. Similar to a human arm: Two joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulderOne joint in the elbow Three joints in the wristSeven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm: Three joints in the shoulder One joint in the elbow Three joints in the wrist
Joint rotationElbow rotation limited to 160 degrees.Each of Canadarm2’s joints rotate 270 degrees in each direction, a total of 540 degrees. This range of motion is greater than that of a human arm.Each joint will be able to rotate almost 360 degrees.
SensesNo sense of touch.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance.Force-moment sensors provide a sense of “touch”. Automatic collision avoidance. 3D Vision Sensor Tool that maps objects around it.
Length15 m17 m8.5 m
Mass410 kg1,497 kg715 kg (estimation)
Diameter33 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)35 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)23 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)
Speed of operationUnloaded: 60 cm/s Loaded: 6 cm/sUnloaded: 37 cm/s Loaded: 2 cm/s (during ground control) 15 cm/s (support during spacewalks)Unloaded: 10 cm/s Loaded: to be determined
Composition16 layers of high-modulus carbon fibre epoxy19 layers of high-strength carbon fibre thermoplasticCarbon fibre composite.
RepairsRepaired on Earth.Designed to be repaired in space. Composed of removable sections that can be individually replaced in space.Designed to self-detach sections that can be repaired inside the Lunar Gateway.
ControlControlled by astronauts on the Space Shuttle.Controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the International Space Station.Primarily controlled autonomously. Can also be controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the Lunar Gateway.
CamerasTwo cameras: One on the elbowOne on the wristFour colour cameras:One on each side of the elbow The other two on the “hands”Six colour 4K cameras: One 360-degree camera on each side of the elbow One on each boom on swivel mounts The other two on the “hands”
OperatorUnited StatesCanada and United StatesCanada

About Canadarm3

Canadian Space Agency Fact Sheet

An artist’s concept of Canadarm3’s large arm on the Lunar Gateway. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Canadarm3 will be Canada’s contribution to the US-led Gateway, a lunar outpost that will enable sustainable human exploration of the Moon. This highly autonomous robotic system will use cutting-edge software to perform tasks around the Moon without human intervention.

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