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NASA Robotics Space Technology

NASA's Zero-Gravity Robotic-Arm Partnership With Canada 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-ya-to-da-iss-eh dept.
AndreV writes "We've entered into an extraterrestrial quid pro quo with our Northern neighbors: After celebrating 25 years of the Canadarm's first venture into space, NASA has reached out (so to speak) to the Canadian Space Agency and begun research and development on a new generation of robotic arms, which would ultimately be used for the US agency's Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle that will provide transportation for Moon missions and jaunts to the international space station. In exchange, Canada will trade the robotic-limb technology's use on Orion and other future US-manned spacecraft for flight time for Canadian astronauts. And seeing solid results shouldn't be far off — the engineering company designing the bionic branch, responsible for the previous Canadarms, has already begun investigating the effects of zero gravity on their components. (Another forward-looking project being bartered for astronaut time is a rover for the Moon and Mars.) Fair trade?"
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NASA's Zero-Gravity Robotic-Arm Partnership With Canada

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  • There was some controversy a little while back when SPAR/MacDonald Dettwiler was to be bought out by foreign interests. Nice to see CSA is on the ball again :)
    • I had to look it up- but my last post felt incomplete:

      There was some controversy a little while back when SPAR/MacDonald Dettwiler's Information Systems and Geospacial Services operations division was to be bought out by to Alliant Techsystems of Edina, Minnesota for $1.325 billion..

      However, that move, while approved by the shareholders was blocked by the Canadian Federal Government.Nice to see CSA is on the ball again :)

      (There, that's better)
  • by Exp315 (851386) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:35AM (#27541901)
    The Canadarm has been an example of successful cooperation in space. Let's hope the Canadian astronauts can use the U.S. toilets when they're up there, unlike the Russians: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7973747.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • NASA is a very closed system. You don't just "get" to become an astronaut because you want to. It's a long and involved project.

    What surprises me is that we haven't seen foreign nations with a fair amount of intellectual capital but without a real space program attempt like types of trade with private space endeavors. It could eventually work out to being on a smaller scale, and could promote a more international, global interest in space.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gerafix (1028986)
      Just because it is difficult to become an astronaut doesn't mean NASA is a closed system. Anyway, your other paragraph is almost nonsensical but I think I understand what you're trying to say. This whole "space thing" is 'relatively' new, so I'm not surprised only a few big nations are investing heavily into it. Eventually it will be globalized and NASA will have to find new ways to stay ahead of the game instead of just having a relative monopoly on the ability to launch people into space. This is rocket s
  • by gordguide (307383) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @10:39AM (#27541917)

    " ... [Nice, thoughtful and reasonably accurate news summary aimed at people with a brain}.
    Fair Trade? ..."

    What is this, Fox News? Do you think /.'ers can't come up with a controversy and discussion themselves, unless prodded with a tagline designed to con viewers to wait for the story after these messages from our fine sponsors?

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by mewsenews (251487)

      (reposted from fox news message boards)

      i think if the canoodlians cant make their own space ships they should take their robots and go back to wear they came from. there robot doesnt even have anything but an arm lol

      we'll bring you back some moon cheese losers

      • lol ... can we take back our body armour systems, sniper teams and pilots too?

        Queue uninformed responses ...

      • by rts008 (812749)

        i think if the canoodlians cant make their own space ships they should take their robots and go back to wear they came from. there robot doesnt even have anything but an arm lol

        That illustrates two things...

        1. Why sometimes I find myself ashamed to be a US citizen

        2. We have made this whole 'computer...on the internet' thing way too easy!

      • i think if the canoodlians cant make their own space ships they should take their robots and go back to wear they came from. there robot doesnt even have anything but an arm lol we'll bring you back some moon cheese losers

        Probably posted on the Fox board from the guy's Blackberry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      I'm not sure what you're referring to (cross-border commercial agreements?) but I think the summary was asking "is exchanging a robot arm for a ride on a spaceship a good deal?" and I think that yes, yes it is a good trade. Seems like everybody wins (which is fair).

      • by gordguide (307383)

        " ... "is exchanging a robot arm for a ride on a spaceship a good deal?" ..."

        I appreciate your on-topic answer. I too think that trading something of value for another thing of value is a decent way to save a few bucks.

        Perhaps the submitter should have asked the question three decades ago, then, when they started doing this stuff; the Canadians began developing the Shuttle robot arms in the late 1970's; the first one was used on STS-2, the second Shuttle Mission ever, on November 13 1881.

        In other words, thi

  • by Big Smirk (692056) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:02AM (#27542047)

    NASA had a big robotics research going on in the mid to early 1990s. The big issue was cost. NASA was down sizing the space station and actively seeking other countries to help fund it. For a brief moment, Orbital Sciences won the contract to develop the arm for the space station. It was based on an underseas robot technology - just with much weaker motors and other environmental considerations (zero-g, zero pressure, grease tends to evaporate under zero pressure). Canada piped in and said they would build the arm if NASA pays. NASA essentially said 'nuts' and awarded the contract [eventually] to Orbital, only to pull it back when Canada said, "just kidding we'll pay for it."
    So my opportunity to work on a really cool project evaporated.
    Few months later Canada came to Orbital trying to figure out how we were going to do it so cheaply. "nuts" to them.
    Anyway: http://www.robotics-research.com/ [robotics-research.com] and ultimately: http://www.robotics-research.com/SATBaysmall.jpg [robotics-research.com]

    • Orbital Sciences won the contract to develop the arm for the space station......
      Few months later Canada came to Orbital trying to figure out how we were going to do it so cheaply. "nuts" to them.

              More recently, NASA came to Orbital trying to figure out how you were going to do launcher shrouds so cheaply. Then they found out.

                Brett

      • by Big Smirk (692056)

        True true. I don't work for Orbital (and haven't for about 10 years) but Orbital was trying to make cheap Communication satellites and bought what was left of Fairchild Space and Defense to help them fix things. It was the Fairchild arm that was supporting NASA not the Orbital side and it was quite the culture clash. The Orbital guys refered to Fairchild as "Jurasic Park" and the Fairchild guys alternatively used "nursery school" or "kindergarten" when talking about Orbital. The difference between dotti

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Canadarm was in use before 1990 ..... and that's the device with the 25th anniversary

      The Canadarm 2 was developed for the IISS, oh and I believe "your project" was done with work from both sides of the border, in fact with "your" company

      "SPAR Aerospace Ltd., a Canadian company, designed, developed, tested and built the SRMS. (SPAR was later indirectly acquired by Richmond, B.C. based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), after going through the hands of American company Orbital Sciences Corp. and be

    • Bitter = Bias

      Sorry, but you *story* wreaks of it.

  • Cool (Score:2, Informative)

    by bikehorn (1371391)
    My sister in law worked on the Canadarm 2. She said they used the good old Intel 386 to control its functions for reliability reasons.
    • by Trails (629752)
      Yes, because it takes that long to do all the testing they need to do before electronics can be certified for space (at least according to NASA specs). I heard, through the grapevine, though I have no link to back it up, that Pentium 2's just got certified.
  • Not surprising... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:09AM (#27542085) Homepage Journal

    Canada has been building robotic arms for NASA for quite some time, and they've done their job well. Canada has been a good strategic ally, and there's no reason to switch vendors.

    • by annex1 (920373)
      Excellent post. Is it exactly this kind of dialog that promotes the friendliness between our two nations. I would imagine that a lot of the American people have no idea that America even does a lot of business with Canada. During the 3 years of various call centre work that I did, it was amazing how many American citizens could not believe that a U.S. company would outsource their support/service lines to Canada(although I mostly chalk that particular example up to the idea that most Americans, rightly
  • by itsybitsy (149808) * on Saturday April 11, 2009 @11:24AM (#27542161)

    Take off without a Canadarm, eh? Not going to happen! You try to get out and they keep pulling you back in with their stinking robotic canada arm! They've got leverage! They've got rotating joints, and as we all know Canadian joints are the best in the world! They've got Jack Baur and Captain Kirk and some awesome singers too! You try to get out and they keep pulling you back in with the long flexible reach of the canadarm...

    Gotta hand it to Canada, it's an awesome technology! No wonder as up in the Great White North (it's melting, it's melting, no, it's freezing, it's freezing, no it's melting, no it's irregular climate, ...) there is nothing to do but play with robotic and non-robotic arms and hands! You see we Canadians got tired of our own hands we decided to invent a flexible third hand for those extra special moments when a helping hand is needed to reach those spots that you just can't get to.

    Canadians keep grasping at the future getting a tight grip upon it! You keep trying to get out but they keep pulling you back in! ;-)

    • If Canada was smart, they would invest heavily into robotics. Right now, they are allowing lots of temp workers to come from Mexico. BUT by focusing on automation, they could lower their costs of goods.
    • by itsybitsy (149808) *
      Isn't it the USA that has lots of Mexilegs? Most Mexicans find it kinda cold up here, after all the hot to cold principle applies: It's the cold that gets you [wordpress.com].

      We'd also need torsos, where would we obtain those from? Nice ones please.
  • If they could just make a big enough arm that could throw hard enough, they wouldn't need a rocket.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      A Canadian scientist once tried to make it possible for Canadian satellites to be launched without the use of southern rockets.
      He had his budget cut on request from the Overlords, so en went to work on his giant canon project with funding from Saddam Hussein. He ended up dead in front of his door with his keys in the lock and the very clean gun next his body.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull [wikipedia.org]

      • by willy_me (212994)
        Do not imply it was the US. No, Israel is most likely to blame as the cannon could have been used to lob projectiles into Israel. Realistically speaking, it would have not been much of a threat. It would be too bit to be mobile and could easily be taken out by an air-strike.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by dakohli (1442929)
          Actually, he didn't imply anything. Just that his budget for launching Canadian Satellites was cut by the "Overlords", prompting him to go work for Saddam, anyone who knows the story suspects Mossad, but who knows for sure?
  • Lets give them a big hand of applause ... 'hand' get it? ... oh dear I need my coffee.

  • The space shuttle fleet will be retired soon. The Russians will be giving us lifts up to the ISS. How does this work? Maybe I am unaware of some replacement vehicle that we have in the works?
  • We've entered into an extraterrestrial quid pro quo with our Northern neighbors

    Well yes of course. I forgot the whole wide world had Canada as Northern neighbours.

  • "A Canadian scientist once tried to make it possible for Canadian satellites to be launched without the use of southern rockets. He had his budget cut on request from the Overlords, so en went to work on his giant canon project with funding from Saddam Hussein. He ended up dead in front of his door with his keys in the lock and the very clean gun next his body." Or forget the Avro-Aero (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Aero) also found dead at the door with a nice clean American made gun beside it. Sout
  • by EdZ (755139) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @08:56PM (#27545675)
    A little known feature of the Canadarm is a set of explosive bolts, designed that in the event of the arm swinging an object towards the station in a manner that it cannot stop, the manipulator can be jettisoned.

    In essence, the ISS can rocket-punch.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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