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Canadarm2 takes its first step

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Monday, April 23, 2001

St. Hubert, 23 April 2001 - Canada's next-generation robotic arm, Canadarm2, took its first step in space today reaching out to grasp a connecting point on the International Space Station's Destiny lab. These connecting devices will eventually be placed around the Station's external structure allowing the arm to flip end-over-end.

Astronauts activated Canadarm2 from a Canadian-built robotic workstation inside the International Space Station. Prior to the Canadarm2's first step, the Station crew commanded the arm to perform a few practice exercises that verified the movement of the arm's joints both individually and then simultaneously.

"The arm is performing flawlessly. Today's success is a tribute to the Canadian expertise we have developed in space robotics," said Canadian Space Agency President, Mac Evans. "The events of the past two days have delivered on a dream conceived more than 15 years ago, that Canada would play a critical role in this very significant international project." Canadarm2 is critical to the successful assembly of the Space Station-it will act as a "construction crane" to build the Station in space, and will be used on virtually every assembly mission. Canadian companies from all regions of the nation participated in building Canadarm2, including its prime contractor MDRobotics of Brampton, Ontario.

The astronauts learned to operate the arm at the Canadian Space Agency's world-renowned training simulators in St. Hubert. CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield helped the Station crew give the arm its first command "It flies beautifully, very precisely and very much like the simulator, which is comforting," said Hadfield from space.

"I am extremely proud of the product we have turned out back home," added Hadfield. "It is a complicated piece of hardware. The arm has mechanical and software complexity. Even though we were confident, you still never know for sure...We are extremely happy with the results and of the way it's working today."

For the first time in history two generations of Canadian robotic arms were active in space at the same time. Canadarm2 was finishing its checkout as the Shuttle's Canadarm attached the Italian Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (a type of space moving van with supplies, equipment and experiments) to the Station.

Tomorrow, at 9:06 a.m. EDT, CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA's Scott Parazynski will begin a second six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to reconnect electrical cables on the Destiny lab. These cables will power up Canadarm2's new connecting point on the lab, known as a Power Data Grapple Fixture, so that it too can provide the arm with electricity and data for its computer systems. Canadarm2 is currently being powered by the space pallet.

Media Program for 24 April 2001 (Flight Day 6)

  • 9:06 am EDT (TBC): Hadfield's second spacewalk.
  • 4:00 pm EDT (TBC): NASA Status Briefing on the second extravehicular activity and the day's activities. The CSA's Benoit Marcotte, Director, Operations Engineering, will participate in the briefing. Media are invited to attend both at JSC and at the CSA, and may ask questions in both locations.

    CSA spokespersons will be available for interviews at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, at the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, and by phone upon request.

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    For more information, contact:
    Media Relations Office
    Canadian Space Agency
    Tel.: (450) 926-4345 or 4370
    Fax: (450) 926-4352

    Mission STS-100 Website: www.space.gc.ca/sts100-mission

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