Combine Chris Hadfield, Two Spacewalks and the Canadarm2 and you get a Great Canadian Mission

Colonel Chris Hadfield At 41 Colonel Chris Hadfield is on top of the world or in this case in orbit around the world. Today Hadfield will blast into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavour for a 12 day mission that will showcase Canadian technology and feature the first ever spacewalk by a Canadian.

Officially called International Space Station Assembly Mission 6A, the international crew of of seven astronauts have three primary objectives. They are to deliver, install and deploy Canadarm2 (known as the Space Station Remote Manipulator System), perform two spacewalks and outfit the Destiny Lab Module with the Italian Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.

This is Hadfields second mission. In 1995 he served as a mission specialist on STS-74 which docked with the the late Russian Space Station Mir. On that mission he became the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm. While Hadfield and the Canadarm2 will be the primary focus for this mission there is a larger Canadian involvement. Both CAPCOMs (short for "capsule communicator) are Canadians. Astronaut Steve Maclean will be the shuttle CAPCOM while astronaut Bob Thirsk will be the space station CAPCOM. As well Canadian industry has a played a major role in this mission. No less than seven Canadian companies (listed below) contributed to the building of the $1.4 billion Canadarm2.

The Canadarm2 is one of three parts of the Mobile Servicing System (MSS). The other two are the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) and the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System. Installation of the MSS is critical to the construction of the rest of the space station and will be used to maintain the station throughout its life.

Recently SpaceRef had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Hadfield;

As the first Canadian to perform a spacewalk, what are your thoughts?

I am delighted, committed, eager, trained and ready. It is truly a 1st for Canada, but also a 1st for me personally. I can't imagine a greater thrill and rare opportunity - and am honoured to be doing it.

How complex are these spacewalks?

STS-100 is the most complicated robotics spaceflight ever, and the EVAs are a large part of that. We have intricate wiring and mechanical connections to make, as well as ballet-like arm rides to build Canadarm2. I have trained for 4 years in preparation.

As the only Canadian to visit Mir what are your thoughts on its recent demise?

It made me a bit sad, and melancholy, to see the world's 1st great outpost in space come to its end, but since Mir paved the way for the ISS, which is now doing so well, it made the end easier to take. Mir was a superb engineering achievement, and all who participated learned greatly from her.

Should the CSA be involved in a mission to Mars in the next 15-20 years would you go if you had the opportunity?

Absolutely, yes. Life only gives so many chances, why not seize one that is challenging, exciting, and historic.

Is a mission to Mars something you've dreamed about?

Sure - along with millions of other folks. But I also have had an amazing set of experiences to this point, and will not be disappointed if I don't get the chance.

SpaceRef Links:

  • SpaceRef STS-100/ISS 6A Mission Guide
  • ISS Elements: The Mobile Service System

    Related Links:

  • Canadian Space Agency STS-100 Web Site

    Contributing Canadian Companies:

  • MD Robotics
  • MacDonald Dettwiler
  • EMS Technologies Inc.
  • IMP Group
  • SED Systems Inc.
  • CAE Electornics Ltd.
  • FRE Composites


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