Press Release

Orbital’s Robotic ‘Canadarm’ Helps Space Shuttle Crew Perform Critical Work On the International Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
May 22, 2000
Filed under

Orbital Sciences Corporation
announced today that its Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS),
also known as the “Canadarm,” is playing a key role on NASA’s current Space
Shuttle Atlantis supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Built by Orbital’s MD Robotics division in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, the SRMS
is a state-of-the-art robotic device that can retrieve satellites for
maintenance, as well as assist astronauts as they work in space.
Five
different SRMS units have performed a total of 54 space missions since its
first use in 1981, aiding astronauts in over 20 spacewalks, facilitating
repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), helping the Shuttle dock with
Russia’s Mir space station and connecting the first two modules of the ISS.

The primary goals of the current Shuttle mission (STS-101) are to prepare
the ISS for the arrival of the Russian “Zvezda” service module, deliver
supplies to the facility and reboost the station into a higher orbit.
For
these activities, the SRMS is being used to support a spacewalk by astronauts
who are performing maintenance to the outside of the ISS and assembling a
Russian crane.

Last December, Orbital’s SRMS robotic arm helped NASA restore the HST, the
premier space-based optical observatory, to full operations after the famous
telescope was temporarily placed in a safe “shut down” condition.
Astronauts
used the SRMS to capture the orbiting HST, move it to the Shuttle’s cargo bay
for repairs and later re-deploy it into orbit.
The SRMS was also used as an
extravehicular mobile work platform for four separate spacewalks by the
Shuttle’s astronaut crew.

SRMS units will also take part in three additional Shuttle missions
scheduled for later this year to help build the ISS which, when completed,
will cover an area larger than two football fields:

  • STS-106 – August 19 (Atlantis)
  • STS-92 – September 21 (Discovery)
  • STS-97 – November 30 (Endeavour)

Orbital’s next-generation space robotics technology also will be featured
on the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), which MD Robotics is building as part of
Canada’s contribution to the ISS.
This system will assist in construction and
maintenance of the ISS, transporting supplies, releasing and recovering
satellites, servicing instruments attached to the station and supporting
astronauts working in space.
The MSS and related equipment is scheduled to be
launched on three Space Shuttle flights beginning in early 2001.

Orbital is one of the largest space technology and satellite services
companies in the world, with 1999 total enterprise revenues of about $915
million.
The company, which is headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, employs
approximately 5,500 people at major facilities in the United States, Canada
and several overseas locations.
Orbital is the world’s leading manufacturer
of low-cost space systems and products, including satellites, launch vehicles,
electronics and sensors, satellite ground systems, and satellite-based
navigation and communications products.
Through its ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE
affiliates and ORBNAV subsidiary, Orbital is also a pioneering operator of
satellite-based networks that provide data communications, high-resolution
imagery and automotive information services to customers all around the world.

SpaceRef staff editor.