Spacewalks Light up the Station and the Night Sky

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Sunday, December 3, 2000

Saint Hubert, December 3, 2000-Today the crew STS-97 began installing the solar arrays that will power up the International Space Station (ISS) making it the brightest object in the night sky.

Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Marc Garneau using the Canadarm, the Shuttle's robotic arm, succesfully attached the giant package containing the solar arrays (the P6 Integrated Truss Segment) atop the Station. During the delicate operation, Garneau used the Canadian Space Vision System to give him visual cues to align the new segment. The vision system provided Garneau with a closed-circuit television view of targets on the Truss and the Station.

He was also visually assisted by two American astronauts, Tanner and Noriega, during a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk that began at 1:35pmEST. The two then tightened bolts that secured the package containing the solar arrays in place. They also connected umbilicals between the new equipment and the rest of the Station establishing critical power and data links.

Once Garneau had attached the Truss to the ISS, he assisted the spacewalkers with their duties, acting as onboard choreographer for the mission. At the end of the spacewalk the crew will send a command from inside the Shuttle to deploy the solar arrays. As the 70 metre arrays spectacularly unfold in the sky, the ISS will be ever more visible to the naked eye.

The solar arrays will yield a total power generation capability that approaches 64kw, enough power to meet the needs of 30 average homes. Three more solar panel arrays will be installed on the Station by the time it is completed.

On Tuesday, a second spacewalk by Tanner and Noriega will move a communications antenna built by Canada's EMS Technologies (Ste Anne de Bellevue, Quebec) to a location high on the new P6 Truss segment. In a series of "leap-frog"like exchanges, the astronauts will alternate possession of the antenna until it is installed in its new position.

This is CSA Astronaut Marc Garneau's third flight into space. He was the first Canadian to fly in space 16 years ago and the first Canadian to serve in the critical role of flight engineer.

Canada is one of the international partners working with the United States, Russia, Japan and 11 nations, members of the European Space Agency, to construct the largest engineering project ever undertaken, the International Space Station. Once completed, the Station will cover an area as large as a football field (108 x 74 metres) and weigh 450 tons. Orbiting at an average altitude of 400 kilometres, it flies regularly over Canada and is now the brightest object in the night sky.

The Canadian contribution to the International Space Station, the Mobile Servicing Systems, is made up of three elements: a next-generation Canadarm called the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS); a smaller, detachable two-armed robot, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), that can be placed on the end of the SSRMS to perform delicate operations; and the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System, a movable platform for the robotic arm and the SPDM, which will slide along rails located on the Space Station's main structure to transport the arm to various points on the Station.

In April 2001, CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield will become the first Canadian Astronaut to perfom a space walk when he installs the new Canadian robotic arm on the International Space Station.

Canada is also contributing the Space Vision System, that provides information on the exact location, orientation and motion of a specific target, allowing Astonauts manipulating the SSRMS to handle its payloads precisely and safely. The Mobile Servicing System Operations Complex, a Ground Segment located at CSA headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec completes Canada's contribution to the ISS and will be used to plan missions, monitor the health of the robotic arm, and to train astronauts and cosmonauts.

Established in 1989 and situated in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, the Canadian Space Agency coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its "Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development" business line, the CSA delivers seven service lines: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Generic Space Technologies; Space Qualification Services; and, Comptrollership and Awareness. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

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For more information:

Caroline Lavallée
Senior Communications Officer
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: (450) 926-4370
Marc Garneau STS-97 Mission Website:

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