Canadian space robot may make Hubble service call

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2005


Longueuil, Quebec, January 5, 2005 - Dr. Marc Garneau, President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is pleased to announce that NASA has given MDA of Brampton, Ontario, the go-ahead for a mission design concept for a possible Hubble Telescope Rescue Mission. Based on Dextre, Canada's space robotics technology, MDA will design a concept that could support the repair and upgrade of the Hubble space telescope, if NASA conducts such a mission.

Dextre is the dual-armed robot built by MDA under contract to the Canadian Space Agency to conduct exterior maintenance of the International Space Station. The robot is specially designed to perform complex tasks in the harsh environment of space, such as installing and removing batteries, power supplies, computer units, and scientific payloads. It will be adapted to replace batteries, gyroscopes, and perhaps an instrument on the $1.5-billion scientific Hubble Space Telescope to extend its life.

The awarding of this contract is a key step to reaching an important milestone next summer when NASA will make a decision as to whether to proceed with the mission. Launched in 1990, Hubble depends on six gyroscopes for accurate pointing and stability. Two of these instruments are now out of service. Hubble's rechargeable batteries are also deteriorating. A successful robotic servicing mission could prolong Hubble's life expectancy well beyond 2010. Without such a mission, the space observatory could fail as soon as 2007.

"Through the Government of Canada's long-standing commitment and vision, we have earned a reputation for leadership and innovation in space robotics, an expertise that is second to none," Garneau said. "NASA's recognition of the expertise of MDA is a source of pride for all Canadians." The Government of Canada's vision and investment in the design and commercialization of leading-edge space robotics such as Canadarm, opened the door for Canada as a partner in building the International Space Station. This vision has led to technological advances such as the design and operation of the integrated mobile servicing system, which includes a mobile base, Canadarm2, and soon, Dextre, all critical to the construction and maintenance of the station.

This Canadian space robotic technology is being adapted to one day help doctors perform surgical operations that will be less invasive than traditional approaches, and which will speed the recovery of patients. This is another example of how the transfer of world-renowned space technology is improving the quality of life of all Canadians.

For more information, please contact

Carole Duval
Canadian Space Agency
Media Relations
Tel.: (450) 926-4370

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