Canadarm2 turns 10
Ten years ago this month, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield floated in orbit high above the Atlantic Ocean as he helped install the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station.
On Tuesday, he reminisced about the moment the national anthem was played in space, shortly after he had completed the task.
"I stood at attention floating weightless inside my space suit," he said, speaking from Houston, Texas, during a virtual news conference hosted by Canadian Space Agency president Steve MacLean to mark the robotic arm's 10th anniversary.
Hadfield, who became the first Canadian to walk in space during the mission, says he still feels tremendous pride about all the Canadarm2 has done, adding that it remains an important inspiration for youth in this country.
"When you're looking for a symbol of what Canada has done … few are as visually symbolic or as currently active in cutting-edge exploration as Canadarm," he said.
The Canadarm2 — the country's main contribution to the international space station effort — helped build the orbiting outpost and continues to do the heavy lifting today as it moves supplies, equipment and even astronauts at the station.
Unlike its precursor, Canadarm2 is not permanently anchored at one end. Instead, each end can be used as an anchor point while the other performs various tasks. This allows it to walk around the station on its own, moving end-over-end.
Canadarm2 is also larger and heavier than the original. On Earth it weighs about 1,640 kilograms, compared with 410 kg for the Canadarm.
The original Canadarm, attached to NASA's space shuttle Endeavour and launched in 1981, was heralded at the time as Canada's most famous technological achievement.
Today, each of NASA's three shuttles is equipped with a Canadarm. After the shuttle program ends with the final flight of Atlantis in June, NASA plans to keep the robotic arms on Discovery and Atlantis, but the Canadarm on the Endeavour has been earmarked to come home.
Canadarm2 is designed to be refurbished in space and will probably never return to Earth.