The Space Station’s Canadian robotic arms have enjoyed another busy month, starting with the release of a SpaceX Dragon and ending with the deployment of a microsat. The Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) – best known as Dextre – is also looking forward to NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3), while it was recently announced that the Canadian Space Agency will build an advanced robotic arm for NASA’s Lunar Gateway.
Canada’s robotic contributions to human space flight cannot be overstated.
While most followers of space flight will be aware of the robotic arms at work on the ISS, not least via their star role in capturing spacecraft arriving at the orbital outpost, it was their role with the Space Shuttle that both vastly increased the capability of those missions and later their safety.
The SRMS (Shuttle Remote Manipulator System) – also known as Canadarm – was first tested with the Space Shuttle during Columbia’s STS-2 mission.
It went on to aid numerous tasks, from deploying payloads to providing assistance to spacewalks and not least on Hubble servicing missions, during which the space telescope would be grappled and pulled into the cargo bay, before moving to assist a string of EVAs ...