CANADARM - 20 Years of Unparalleled Performance

Press Release From: MDA
Posted: Monday, November 12, 2001

November 12, 2001 marks a historical date for MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates subsidiary, MD Robotics. 20 years ago today the world-famous Canadarm was first launched on-board the space shuttle Columbia. This pioneering technology, developed by MD Robotics, established Canada as world leaders in space robotics.

For the past 20 years, Canadarm has been recognized as an icon of Canadian innovation and technology and a highly regarded, key element of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Canadarm has performed on-orbit tasks well beyond its original design specifications. It has proven most valuable in the retrieval of satellites and is an essential component in the assembly of the International Space Station.

Originally designed for a 10-year life, engineers at MD Robotics have incorporated significant design changes and upgrades that will see Canadarm continue to operate for another 20 years. The Government of Canada's original $108 million investment has resulted in excess of $700 million in export sales to the United States, Europe and Japan.

Since its inaugural flight on STS-2 in 1981, the Canadarm technology has evolved and a new generation robotic arm has emerged - Canadarm2. Earlier this year, Canadarm2 was launched on STS-100 and for the first time we saw two Canadian robotic arms outstretched, proudly displaying the familiar Canada wordmark. Both Canadarm and Canadarm2 will be vital to the assembly and maintenance of the Space Station.

"This year is destined to be one of the most exciting years for MD Robotics," said Mag Iskander, vice president and general manager of MD Robotics. "Seeing the two generations of Canadarms working together in space is just a prelude of what is to come. We are in the final stages of completing a revolutionary new robotic system, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator or SPDM. When the SPDM is launched in 2003/2004 you will see a remarkable, 3 1/2 metre tall, dual-armed robot that will be ready to perform delicate maintenance and servicing tasks on the Space Station; the SPDM even comes equipped with its own tool belt! We are also applying our robotic expertise and technology in the development of smaller systems for space exploration, medical and mining applications."

MD Robotics, a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler, is the world's leading space robotics company, committed to offering hi-tech, sophisticated robotic and engineering solutions for space and terrestrial applications.

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Lynne Vanin
Manager, Public Affairs
MD Robotics

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