Canada in Space
By: Arhum Shahzad
Canada is a nation of explorer’s that have created a marvelous piece of technology, that has not only benefited us here in Canada. But in the globe and even beyond the stars. A piece of technology that has not only inspired other great Canadian inventions. But has represented our country by the great work it does and deemed us as the world leading robotics nation. A robotic arm with 4 different joints able to pick up, move, and hold things from giant solar panels to small astronauts, it can extend up to 15 metere’s, and has two television cameras installed. It’s called Canadarm.
Canadarm also know as Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) has inspired many other Canadian technologies, such as Image Guided Automated Robot (IGAR), MODUS V, and the NeuroARM. IGAR is a “one stop system” for diagnosis of mainly breast cancer, also lung, liver, kidney, and prostate cancer, and delicate spinal surgery. The Canadian Space Agency says that IGAR has diagnosed over 24″,400 women with breast cancer, the reason why IGAR has diagnosed so many patients is because it works inside a MRI improving its accuracy and efficiency. IGAR is so accurate that it can provide the location, and size of the tumor and can treat the tumor without open wound surgery. Requiring less surgeons to work on one patient meaning that more patients could get their surgery done at once. We can also see that Canadarms technology has inspired another medical device called MODUS V better known as Drive, this device is used across the globe. It’s a robotic arm with a microscopic camera at the end, this is used in surgeries to display a closer and enhanced look at the operation for the surgeon. Drive also use’s the same software of its predecessor 400 kilometers up in space. MDA the company that originally developed Canadarm say’s that Drive is one of the most used inspired technologies from the canadarm. Lastly, NeuroARM is a the first of its kind, it looks like the Canadarm but shrunken down. This tool is used to perform surgery fully remote controlled by a surgeon, because the arm has more dexterity than a human hand. But can a robot be more accurate than a human’s touch, and the answer is yes. Since 2008 it has worked on 70 patients that have otherwise been diagnosed as inoperable, Paige Nickason, a mother of one had a egg shaped tumor on the side of her face that has given her “unimaginable pain” she was also diagnosed as inoperable and was then treated by the world’s first robot that performs surgery, It was success and she survived the treatment. This goes to show that the amazing work developed by Canadians in space is now saving lives not only in Canada but in the whole world. This is also beneficial to canada because all the stated inventions where created and tested in Canada putting money into jobs and back into the economy.
Along with United States, Russia, Europe and Japan, Canada is also a partner on board the International Space Station (ISS) a research laboratory orbiting earth, and without Canadarm we wouldn’t have the International space station nor would we have satellites and telescopes that lets us communicate with people across the world, and expand our knowledge of the universe. Canadarm grabs the parts and puts them together like Lego bricks. Also the International Space Station takes a toll after being in orbit for so long and travelling at 8 Km/s, such as ice build up on the waste exit of the space station, the arm was used to knock and break the ice off. In 2020 the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is going to install a sophisticated vision tool that lets Dextre (3rd Candarm variant) to scan the surface for damage, possible punctures, and ice build ups. Canadarm also grabs many sorts of items in space, “mission STS-74” was the first space flight for the Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, his task was to be the first Canadian astronaut to operate the Canadarm, he had to dock the Russian Docking Module (DM) to the orbiter this was significant because this module had other astronauts, solar panels, and two experiments. This is beneficial to Canada because it build’s a name for Canadians in the ISS. Also the more a nation contributes to the ISS means that they can send more of their own astronauts to space. So the three different arm’s definitely helped Canada build a bond with NASA, Russia, Japan and Europe so much so that they made Canadian engineering a permanent resident on the ISS, it’s called Dexter the third Canadarm variant. The Canadarm can retrieve, deploy and repair satellites, this helps us on earth use our cell phones and internet. Repairing telescopes was big accomplishment for the Canadamarm, STS-61 was the first hubble telescope service mission, it has a total of five spacewalks that all used the Canadarm to hold the astronauts and more importantly the actual telescope. If Canada did not create the arm then the 1.5 billion dollar telescope would have had a short life expectancy of 15 years. This telescope has show us that we aren’t the only one in this universe, and that there still is background radiation still in the atmosphere here from the big bang.
Lastly, Canadarm hasn’t only made us proud in space but has left Canada a great economic boost, and helped the field of nuclear energy. Canadarm was developed by three different aerospace companies all in canada, the founding one being located in Brampton. Canadarm has costed $110 Million to develop, not including the other 4 that where created after it. The development of Canadarm include the sale and maintenance of four Canadarm systems to NASA, Japan, and Europe the sale of simulators and robotic systems for the Nuclear industry. This instantly put Canada at the top of the high technology field. Finally, Canadarm is being seen in the nuclear industry to service power stations and remote servicing utility power lines or cleaning radioactive and hazardous wastes. MDA which developed Canadarm has also created utility arm to analyze radioactive waste in underground storage tanks. There was also a robot arm that loaded fuel into nuclear reactors, this is what sparked NASA’s attention in 1975 robotics thus leading them to get Canada to manufacture Canadarm.