The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Next Generation Canadarm to Focus on Satellite Servicing

As soon as Canada figures out how to launch rockets with maple syrup, Canadarms will be taking over in orbit

1 min read
Next Generation Canadarm to Focus on Satellite Servicing

As much as we love Canada, our northern neighbors don't exactly have a huge space program going on up there, probably because you can't launch rockets on maple syrup.

I kid, of course. You can totally do that.

Anyway, the Canadian Space Agency is probably best known for two things: Chris Hadfield, and the Canadarm and Canadarm2. These giant robotic space-arms have been flying on the space shuttle since 1981, and the latest currently serves as Dextre's lower body on the ISS. As always, we're wondering what the next generation of Canadarm is going to be like, so we were excited to see this video from the CSA showcasing their next generation Canadarm project: the "Next-Generation Canadarm Project." Mind = blown. 

There are two different arms that are part of the project: the little guy in the picture at the top of this article who has a 3 meter reach, and his big brother, with a 15-meter reach:

Despite the size, the folding and telescoping arms can stuff themselves into just five cubic meters, which is approximately the volume of a space minivan. And since more robots = better, you can stick the little arm on the big arm to make what I guess would have to be a Canadarmarm.

As the CSA quite rightly points out, there's a huge amount of space junk flying around up there, and launching satellites is expensive and (eventually) wasteful. With some friendly Canadian robots in orbit to repair and refuel and upgrade existing systems, we can keep that space junk flying just as long as we need it to.

[ Next-Generation Canadarm ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less