Canadarm3 will be Canada's contribution to the US-led Gateway, a lunar outpost that will enable sustainable human exploration of the Moon. This highly autonomous robotic system will use cutting-edge software to perform tasks around the Moon without human intervention.
The smart robotic system will include several distinct parts:
- a large, 8.5-metre-long arm
- a smaller, more dexterous arm
- a set of detachable tools
The next-generation Canadian robotic system will be designed to:
- maintain, repair and inspect the Gateway
- capture visiting vehicles
- relocate Gateway modules
- help astronauts during spacewalks
- enable science both in lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon
Canadarm3 is designed to work autonomously. However, the system could also be operated by robotics flight controllers in Canada, or by Gateway crew during spacewalks.
Canada is internationally recognized as a leader in space robotics. Our success in critical projects like Canadarm on the Space Shuttle fleet and Canadarm2 and Dextre on the International Space Station (ISS) have established Canada's reputation for excellence.
In return for contributing Canadarm3, Canada receives a range of opportunities for lunar science, technology demonstration and commercial activities, as well as two astronaut flights to the Moon. A Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut will be part of Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the Moon since .
How it will work
Canadarm3's smaller arm will be equipped to transfer mission-critical material between the interior and the exterior of the space station.
The small arm will be able to help repair the larger arm in space if necessary. This means that, thanks to advances in autonomy and artificial intelligence, Canadarm3 will be able to maintain itself in space – swapping out parts and keeping itself constantly ready to perform precise operations.
How Canadarm3 will move on the Gateway
Each end of Canadarm3's arms will be able to attach to the Gateway using specially designed interfaces on the Gateway's exterior. Each anchoring "
hand" will plug into an interface that supplies power, data, and video connections.
These interfaces will also allow the large and small arms to work together to accomplish tasks, and will help store tools when not in use.
Canadian robots on the ISS have led to the development of many technologies that benefit our lives here on Earth:
- neuroArm, the world's first robot capable of performing brain surgery inside an MRI machine
- IGAR, precision technology that has the potential to accelerate breast cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Modus V, a robotic digital microscope set to transform the way surgery is performed in hospitals
These spinoffs exemplify how space robotics and expertise developed in Canada help bring tangible benefits to people on Earth.
Who is working on Canadarm3?
MDA, based in Brampton, Ontario, is working on Canadarm3. Canadarm and Canadarm2 were built by MDA.
In , the Canadian Space Agency awarded MDA a contract to establish the technical requirements to build Canadarm3. Hundreds of Canadian companies are expected to be involved in its development, working with MDA and research organizations to drive innovation and Canadian excellence in emerging technologies.
When will it operate on the Gateway?
The target date for delivering Canadarm3 to the Gateway is . This date may be adjusted in relation to the broader Gateway timeline.
- Canadarm, Canadarm2, and Canadarm3 – A comparative table
- Canada's role in Moon exploration
- Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program
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