Canadian Space Robot Will Repair Itself

The video above shows an animation of what the Canadian Space Agency hopes will be the first successful self-repair of the Mobile Servicing System aboard the ISS. The mobile servicing system is basically a group of several complicated robots that can either perform complicated tasks on their own, or be combined into a larger unit to extend the dexterity of the system as a whole.

The most recent addition to the servicing system is the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, otherwise known as Dextre. Dextre is somewhat reminiscent of a human torso with two enormous arms. It is just one of the Canadian Space Agency’s contributions to the station. It was installed on the station in 2008 to perform activities that would normally require space walks. Dextre’s very first official assignment was successfully completed in 2011 when the robot was used to unpack two pieces for the Kounotori 2 transfer vehicle while the human crew on board the ISS was sleeping.

Dextre is constructed in such a way that it can be grabbed by the Canadarm2 robot and moved to various work sites around the Space Station. Dextre can then operate from the maintenance site on its own while the Canadarm2 can be used for other functions. Dextre can also be operated while mounted to the end of Canadarm2, essentially combining the two robots into one bigger and more dexterous robot.

One of the more critical camera’s on the Canadarm2 has started transmitting hazy images. To fix it, the Canadarm2 will grab onto Dextre, forming a sort of “super robot”. Dextre will then be positioned in such a way that it can remove the faulty camera. The hazy camera will then be mounted to the mobile base component of the Mobile Servicing System. This will give the ISS crew a new vantage point of a less critical location. The station’s human crew will then place a new camera module in Japan’s Kibo module’s transfer airlock. Dextre will be able to reach this new camera and then mount it on the Canadarm2 to replace the original faulty unit. If successful, this mission will prove that the Mobile Servicing System has the capability to repair itself under certain conditions, opening the door for further self-repair missions in the future.

5 thoughts on “Canadian Space Robot Will Repair Itself

  1. Great stuff. :) So we can state that the ISS is armed.
    The name Canadarm2 induced a chuckle to my Dutch brain, though: in the Dutch language, the word “darm” means intestine.

  2. Now you only need a way to get it to space.. lest we forget: the russians are boycotting the west’s ISS efforts now.

    And on another subject: I sometimes wonder how it is that you almost never hear about euro robotics, but then when I thought about it I got a feeling it’s there at some level but just not picked by the US due to competitive economical reasons. (or just not mentioned because it’s not north american?)

    1. Funny story that I heard about the Canadarm (the original ones on the shuttles). We Canadians have a bit (hah, just a *bit*) of an inferiority complex. As a result, we’ve mastered the technique of humble-bragging with our flag. When the Canadarm was first installed, of course it had the standard “Canada” logo, where the Canadian flag flies from the “d” in “Canada” as though it were a flag pole. Well, the shuttle bay camera gave a beautiful view of the Canadarm, etc, and the ONLY national “branding” visible was Canadian. On the very next mission, the Americans had the big American flag put up in the shuttle bay!

  3. I’m glad SOMEBODY is interested in space. NASA today would be hard pressed to launch a bottle rocket. I grew up watching the Apollo launches-it was an exciting time. It’s a real disgrace what has become of the American space program.

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