CSA Unveils Next-Generation Canadarm
By Design Engineering StaffGeneral Aerospace Aerospace Canadarm Canadian Space Agency MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates MDA
Robotic prototypes to position Canada for space business opportunities.
At MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ facilities in Brampton, Ontario, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) officially unveiled the Next-Generation Canadarm project (NGC). In 2009, Canada’s Economic Action Plan allocated $53.1 million over three years to the Canadian Space Agency to maintain Canada’s leadership in the design and construction of the next generation of the Canadarm. According to the CSA, the resulting robotic systems provide Canada with the capability to study solutions for potential future missions or to service several types of spacecraft—from space telescopes to refueling satellites.
The NGC consists of four versatile state-of-the-art robotic prototypes and a mission control station. NGC’s 15-metre robotic arm can fit inside the average mini-van and will fit onboard future smaller spacecraft. A smaller, 2.5-metre robotic arm is equipped with its own set of tools and was designed to repair satellites in space.
In addition, a test-bed allows engineers to simulate bringing two spacecraft together for operations in close-contact. A second test facility simulates the steps required to dock two vehicles together and a mission operations station allows all NGC’s systems to be operated remotely.
“Regardless of future space destinations, space robotics will be required for a variety of missions, from rovers that act as robotic planetary explorers to robots that will repair and refuel satellites and space telescopes” explained Gilles Leclerc, Director General of Space Exploration at CSA. “No matter the mission, Canada will be ready.”