Since 1981, the Canadarm and its successor, the Canadarm 2, have been hard at work aboard the International Space Station. Over the course of the last 32 years the massive robotic arm has help astronauts with space walks, made sure unmanned craft successfully docked with the mother ship, and helped out with various experiments.
While the venerable Canadarm has been an awesome partner on the ISS it’s time for a change. Fortunately, the Canadarm legacy will continue and the Canadian Space Service is working on two arms that will replace the older Canadarm 2.
The first arm (top right), the Large Canadarm is some 15m long and is equipped with six degrees of freedom. In addition the robotic arm will also have upgraded hardware and software giving it more flexibility over its predecessor.
The second arm (top left), the Small Canadarm is stubby 2.5m arm whose main focus will be undertaking experimental satellite repairs. To make these repairs go smoothly the Small Canadarm will have a number of specialized tools handy so that it can repair satellites autonomously or by remote control.
With a two next-gen Canadarms and a 3D printer headed for the ISS, its seems like the world’s permanent outpost in space is getting a well-deserved high-tech upgrade.
Watch a Video of the Next Generation Canadarm
Images and Video Courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency