Canadarm's home up in the air: space agency

The Canadian Space Agency says it is in negotiations to bring the space shuttle Endeavour's Canadarm back to Canada — but, contrary to reports, the robotic arm's final home has yet to be decided.

The Canadian Space Agency said it is in negotiations with NASA to bring the Canadarm from the space shuttle Endeavour back to Canada — but, contrary to reports, the final home of the iconic piece of technology has yet to be decided.

The Canadian Press reported Thursday that after Canadarm's final mission aboard Endeavour concludes later this month, it will find a new home at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

Stephen Quick, director general of the Ottawa museum, said the 15-metre long robotic arm's first stop will be the Canadian Space Agency, near Montreal, before it comes to Ottawa.

"I believe they're going to try and display it a bit and, at some point down the road, it's heading our way," he told The Canadian Press.

Robert Godwin, curator of Toronto's privately run Canadian Air and Space Museum, also told CP that it was his understanding that  the decision had already been made to bring the Canadarm to Ottawa.

But CSA spokesman Jean-Pierre Arsenault said nothing has been decided yet and the Canadarm may continue to travel if it is in good enough condition.

Spar Aerospace began developing the first Canadarm in Toronto in 1975 and it was delivered to NASA in April 1981. The space arm — then known only as known as the shuttle remote manipulator system — was first put to work on Nov., 13 1981, when it stretched out from the cargo bay of space shuttle Columbia.

Five Canadarms were built for American space shuttles, but one was destroyed in an explosion during the 1986 launch of the space shuttle Challenger.

There was no Canadarm on the space shuttle Columbia when it was destroyed in 2003, but after the incident, Canadarms equipped with cameras to check for shuttle damage became mandatory on all missions.

With files from The Canadian Press