Canada’s contribution to NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project was recently announced by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The latter mentioned an autonomous robotic arm called Canadarm3, intended to equip the lunar station. However, this arm has very little to do with the old versions!
A unique robotic arm
The Gateway lunar station should serve as a hub between Earth and our satellite. Thus, astronauts will be able to stay there between two missions on the lunar surface. Ultimately, the station could also embody a sort of relay point for future Martian missions. According to the program, the first module will be sent in 2022 and the last in 2026. In addition, in March 2020, NASA had selected the first scientific instruments from this station.
In a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) press release issued on June 26, 2020, the Canadarm3 robotic arm was discussed. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) will assume its construction. Remember that MDA had manufactured the first Canadarm (space shuttles) and Canadarm2 for the International Space Station (ISS). No one knows when the Canadarm3 robotic arm will be ready, but its characteristics are no longer a secret.
Two arms, not just one!
First, you should know that the Canadarm3 robotic arm is very different from the two previous versions. Indeed, the latter has two arms and not just one. The first arm is 8.5 meters long and is expected to be used for repairs, spacewalks, and cargo docking. The second is much smaller but has better dexterity. The latter should therefore be used for more complex maintenance tasks requiring more precision.
The CSA raised the fact that Canadarm3 incorporates artificial intelligence. This will allow it to perform its own maintenance and independently repair certain failures. In addition, it should be known that this autonomy is completely new for a space arm. Indeed, the human presence will be intermittent on the Gateway station because NASA plans an average month of presence there per year.
Finally, the CSA indicates that Canadarm3 is none other than Canada’s contribution to NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project. The agency believes this contribution will provide more flying opportunities for Canadian astronauts. It is also about giving more possibilities in terms of scientific research for the experts of this country.