Canada is sending a $200-million robot to the International Space Station next month to take much of the heavy lifting being done by astronauts.


Dextre, the official name of the Special Purpose dexterous Manipulator, will be an essential tool for repairing and maintaining the International Space Station. It is designed to remove and replace smaller components on the Station exterior, where precise handling is required. ((MD Robotics and Canadian Space Agency))

The two-armed robot, known as Dextre, is scheduled to be launched March 11 on the shuttle Endeavour.

Dextre will perform exterior construction and basic tasks like changing batteries and installing and removing experiments on the space station.

Officials at the Canadian Space Agency say the 3.7-metre robot will reduce the amount of time astronauts have to spend outside the space station on routine maintenance.

It will also free up astronauts so they can spend more time on scientific activities.

With its rotating joints, torso and five cameras, Dextre can be used as a sort of snap-on tool for the Canadarm2 on the space station.