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Canada's Space Work Platform Finally Launched

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2002

After a six-day delay due to bad weather, Canada's newest contribution to the Station-the Mobile Base System (MBS), launched today at 17:23 EDT onboard Space Shuttle Endeavour.

On earth it's often said the most important feature of real estate is: location, location, location. On the International Space Station, orbiting 400 kilometres above earth, location is as important - especially when it comes to assembling, maintaining and repairing hard-to-reach components. Getting tools and equipment to the right place at the right time will be the job of the Mobile Base.

The 1450-kilogram aluminum work platform, which will be mounted on the U.S.-built Mobile Transporter, will trundle along rails that span the length of the Station. At a stately pace of about .09 kilometres per hour, it will take just over an hour to cover 109 metres of track.

The MBS will play an essential role in assembling and maintaining the Station over its lifetime. Capable of carrying payloads weighing a total of 20,900 kilograms, it will transport Canadarm2, as well as Space Station structures and space experiments, to wherever they are needed. Astronauts will also use the Mobile Base to store tools and equipment needed during spacewalks.

"Canada has built a space workhorse critical to the Station's construction. This Mobile Base will be part of the first space railway system, helping to build the International Space Station," said Minister Allan Rock, Industry Minister and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency.

"The design and construction of the Mobile Base System demonstrates the very best of Canadian innovation and industry partnerships, representing Canadian companies from coast to coast," added Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development).

During a future space activity, Canadarm2 will for the first time step off the Station's laboratory module onto the MBS, a move that will greatly extend its reach. The arm has been attached to the laboratory since being installed by Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield and his crewmates during a shuttle flight in April 2001.

The jointed design of Canadarm2 allows it to "walk" end over end by grasping connecting devices on the exterior of the Station, but there is currently only one such device, which is located on the lab. The Mobile Base System has four connecting devices, one on each corner. Canadarm2 will be able to reach considerably more of the Station by riding on the platform. During one of the three spacewalks planned for this mission, astronauts will also replace a wrist roll joint that has been malfunctioning on Canadarm2. Unlike the shuttle's Canadarm, the Station's arm cannot be returned to earth, so it was designed to be repaired on orbit.

The Mobile Base System was built by MD Robotics Inc., the Brampton, Ontario, company that also built Canadarm2 and the shuttle's Canadarm. It was assisted by Canadian companies from all regions of the nation: Ebco Aerospace (Delta, B.C.); EMS Technologies Canada Ltd. (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.); FELLFAB Limited (Hamilton, Ont.); Hroux Devtek (Scarborough, Ont.); MBM Tool & Machine limited (Woodbridge, Ont.); Rostar Precision Inc. (Brampton, Ont.); Wardrop Engineering Inc. (Winnipeg, Man.); and xwave Solutions (Stittsville, Ont.).

Along with the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency, Canada is one of the five major partners in the International Space Station, the most ambitious science and engineering project ever undertaken. Once complete the Station will cover an area as big as a Canadian football field (108 x 74 metres) and will weigh 450 tons. Orbiting at an average altitude of 400 kilometres above the earth, the Space Station flies over Canada regularly and is visible to the naked eye. In fact, it is the third brightest object in the night sky (to find out when the International Space Station will be visible in your area, visit the CSA Website at: http://www.space.gc.ca/station).

CSA spokespersons are available for interviews at the CSA's headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. For live coverage of the mission, media can log on to the NASA TV satellite on GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz and audio of 6.8 MHz or via the Internet at www.nasa.gov/ntv/

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For more information, contact:

Monique Billette
Senior Media Relations Officer
Canadian Space Agency
Tel.: (450) 926- 4370
monique.billette@space.gc.ca
Mission STS-111 Website: www.space.gc.ca/sts111

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