Dextre Ready for its Closeup Aboard ISS


Much like his Earth-based counterparts, the Space Station’s robotic handyman, Dextre is on call for any situation that may arise. But Dextre also has a “to-do” list. His first official task will take place on February 2-4, 2011 when he unpacks the Japanese Kounotori2 HTV-2 cargo spaceship as it makes its second visit to the International Space Station (ISS). It will also mark the first time that the mobile base carries Canadarm2 with Dextre on the end.

Dextre’s work will begin after Canadarm2 captures the free-flying Kounotori2 spacecraft and docks it to the ISS (just like the robotic arm did with HTV-1 in September 2009). Kounotori2 is ferrying 3855 kg of cargo and spare parts to the ISS, including two components for the Canadian Space Agency: a spare Canadian Remote Power Controller Module (a circuit-breaker box); and a Video Distribution Unit (which serves as an interface between the Mobile Servicing System’s cameras and video system).

Canadarm2 will remove the Exposed Pallet (a transportation rack that slides out of the spacecraft like a drawer) from Kounotori2’s external cargo trunk and will hand it to the Japanese robotic arm on the ISS’s Kibo module. The pallet will then be installed on the Japanese module’s Exposed Facility.

Next, Canadarm2 will step onto the Canadian mobile base, pick up Dextre with its free end and move him closer to the Exposed Pallet so that Dextre can remove two of the pallet’s payloads (the Cargo Transfer Container and the Flex Hose Rotary Coupler). Once this is done, Canadarm2 and Dextre will ride on the mobile base to the other side of the Station, where Dextre will install the two payloads. The mobile base will then ferry both Canadarm2 and Dextre back to the centre of the ISS, and Canadarm2 will place Dextre back onto the Station (on Node 3).

Afterwards, the Japanese robotic arm will hand the empty Exposed Pallet back to Canadarm so that it can stow it in the Kounotori2 spacecraft. Kounotori2 will remain on the ISS until late March. Once its mission is complete, Canadarm2 will remove it from the ISS and release it. Kounotori2 will then follow a controlled path to reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.