Canadarm2 Spinoff Technology Transforming Surgery on Earth

Operating room (Credit: Synaptive Medical/Cicada Design Inc.)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — Since its space debut in 1981, Canadarm has made its mark on the world stage. In exchange for Canadarm’s vital contributions to NASA‘s space shuttle program, Marc Garneau was granted a seat aboard Space Shuttle Challenger as part of Mission STS-41-G in 1984, making him the first Canadian astronaut to launch to space.


Canada Post Unveils Postage Stamp Celebrating Canadarm

Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen unveiled the Canadarm stamp together. (Credit: Canada Post)

Astronaut Jeremy Hansen unveils Canadarm stamp to celebrate Canadian achievements in robotics, science and technology.

TORONTO (Canada Post PR) — At approximately 9 a.m. EST, on November 13, 1981, the Canadarm was deployed from the Shuttle Columbia’s cargo bay for the first time. This marvel of Canadian engineering weighed less than 480 kilograms, and could lift more than 30,000 kilograms – the approximate weight of a city bus – using less power than an electric kettle.


From Orbit to Operating Rooms, Space Station Technology Translates to Tumor Treatment

The neuroArm merges machine technology derived from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 with microsurgery. (Credit:  Project neuroArm, University of Calgary)
The neuroArm merges machine technology derived from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 with microsurgery. (Credit:
Project neuroArm, University of Calgary)

CALGARY, Alberta (NASA PR) — People commonly use rocket science or brain surgery to refer to something incredibly complex and difficult. No wonder, then, that combining the two could result in something wonderful.

Powerful robotic arms developed by the Canadian Space Agency for the space shuttle and International Space Station – Canadarm and Canadarm2 – and a delicate surgical tool, dubbed neuroArm, are examples of the “wonderful things” that can happen when experts from different disciplines work together, says Garnette Sutherland, M.D.


Robots from Space Lead to One-Stop Breast Cancer Diagnosis Treatment

Dr. Mehran Anvari, chief executive officer and scientific director at the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation, with the Image-Guided Autonomous Robot (IGAR) manipulator. Image (Credit:  The Hamilton Spectator)
Dr. Mehran Anvari, chief executive officer and scientific director at the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation, with the Image-Guided Autonomous Robot (IGAR) manipulator.
(Credit: The Hamilton Spectator)

By Jessica Eagan
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

We may not be driving flying cars to work yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to be excited about from technology advances related to the space age. Instead of zipping past traffic jams, International Space Station-derived robotic capabilities are giving us a fast pass to life-saving surgical techniques with cancer-fighting finesse.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 232,340 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the end of 2013 alone. From that, about 39,620 women and 410 men will not survive.


Canadarm: The Next Generation

Video Caption: The Next Generation Canadarm project showcases unique Canadian robotic hardware and software technology designed to support future space missions and repairing and refueling existing satellites. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

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MDA Stock Falls Sharply as Canadian Government Rejects Sale

Shares of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates fell sharply on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday after the Canadian government signaled that it would block the company’s sale of its space division to an American defense contractor.

Shares of the Richmond, BC-based company, which had been trading at a high of $47 Canadian on Wednesday, fell to $42.85 Canadian on Thursday after Industry Minister Jim Prentice indicated that the”investment is not likely to be of net benefit to Canada.” The stock recovered slight to finish the week at $43.03 Canadian.

MDA had planned to sell its space division to U.S.-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for $1.325 billion in order to focus on its information systems business. Stockholders overwhelmingly approved the sale last month.

However, opponents said the sale would devastate the Canadian space industry, give Americans access to taxpayer-subsidized technology, and compromise the nation’s sovereignty. MDA built the Canadarms and the Dextre robot for the space shuttle and International Space Station, both funded by the Canadian government.


Rideau Institute, Auto Workers Seek Release of Information on MDA Sale


TORONTO/OTTAWA, March 30 /CNW/ – The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Rideau Institute publicly released a letter written by their legal counsel calling upon Industry Minister Jim Prentice to release information regarding the purchase of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ (MDA) important Canadian space information systems, including RADARSAT-2 and the maker of the Canadarm by U.S.-based Alliant Techsystems (ATK).

Citing procedures regarding “Third Party Representations” which are set out under the Department’s Guidelines – Administrative Procedures issued pursuant to section 38 of the Investment Canada Act, the letter calls upon the Minister:

  • to seek permission from ATK to release any undertakings the U.S firm made to the government in support of its application;
  • to describe steps taken by the department in evaluating the compatibility of ATK’s application with other Canadian government policies; and
  • which departments, provinces and territories have been consulted about the application, as required by the Investment Canada Act.


Ruling on Controversial MDA Sale Delayed 30 Days

The Canadian government has announced a 30-day delay in its decision on whether to approve the controversial sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates’ space technology division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems.

Facing a Saturday deadline, Conservative Party Industry Minister Jim Prentice announced a month-long delay in order to conduct a more in-depth review of the sale. The Vancouver-based company has built some of Canada’s major contributions to space, including Canadarm, Radarsat 2, and the International Space Station’s new Dextre robot.

MDA wants to sell the division in order to focus on other parts of its business. Its shareholders have overwhelming approved the move. However, critics say the sale will devastate the Canadian space industry and threaten the nation’s sovereignty. One issue is whether U.S. law will limit Canada’s access to data from Radarsat 2, which the Canadian government primarily funded.

There has been a lot of coverage of this issue in the Canadian media. Below are some useful links:

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Ruling on sale of Canadarm, Radarsat to U.S. arms-maker delayed 30 days

Canada Newswire:
Access Denied: U.S. Law Will Limit Canadian Access to RADARSAT-2 Data if Sale of MDA’s Space Division Proceeds

Liberal Party of Canada:
MDA Review Must Provide Solid Answers to Sovereignty Issues and Protecting Canada’s Space Industry

New Democratic Party:
NDP MP Peggy Nash demands that minister reject the sale of MDA

National Post:
Time to ground space firm’s sale (Op-ed by Don Martin)

Should Canada Scuttle the MacDonald Dettwiler Sale?

Don Martin has an op-ed in the National Post urging the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to scuttle the sale of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates’ space division to American defense contractor Alliant Technosystems.

“This company’s heavily subsidized satellite technology was designed specifically to assert Northern sovereignty, assess global warming’s impact on our crops, measure sea-ice thickness and even spot submarines in shallow water,” Martin writes. “And that’s just the state-of-the-art 2,200-kilogram RADARSAT 2 satellite built and launched by MDA only three months ago.”

The proposed sale, overwhelmingly approved last week by shareholders, has created a major backlash north of the border. The company says it will produce a cash infusion that will allow it to focus on other businesses. Critics like Martin say the sale will devastate Canada’s space industry. The Canadian and American governments must approve the deal.

Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the sale on the very day that MDA’s latest creation, Dextre, rocketed into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. Astronauts have spent the last few days installing and activating the maintenance robot on the exterior of the station. MDA also built the Canadarm robot cranes for the space shuttle and space station.

MDA Shareholders Approve Sale of Division to Alliant Techsystems

The shareholders of Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. have overwhelming approved the controversial sale of its space and satellite business to American defense contractor Alliant Techsystems (ATK), The Canadian Press reports.

The proposed sale, which sent shock waves through the Canadian space industry, was approved by 99.9 percent of shareholders. MDA makes Canadarm, the robotic arm used aboard the space shuttle and the international space station. It also built Dextre, an ISS robot that was just launched aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

ATK will pay $1.325 billion in cash for MDA’s space and satellite business. MDA said the sale would provide an infusion of cash and allow it to focus on its information products business.

Canandian opponents of the sale, who say it would cripple Canada’s space program, have vowed to try to block the sale. The transaction must be approved by Canadian and American regulators.

Is Dextre the last hurrah for the Canadian space program?

Even as the Canadian space officials look forward to the launch of their robot Dextre to the International Space Station this week, they are facing a range of challenges to their future, the National Post reports.

The Canadian Space Agency’s budget has been frozen for the last decade and political leaders have not given the agency a firm commitment to participate in the American human lunar and Mars program, the newspaper says. CSA’s president, Laurier Boisvert, resigned in December after only nine months on the job.

Boisvert’s resignation was apparently spurred, in part, by the planned sale of the space technology division of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. to an American military contractor. The company built the country’s most visible contribution to human spaceflight, Canadarm, as well as the Dextre robot, which is set for launch this week aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Ben Quine, a professor at York University’s Earth and Space Engineering department, said Canada’s future direction is uncertain. “Canadarm was a great Canadian success story,” he told the paper. “But to some extent, we’ve lost our way in the space industry in this country … I think we’ve got to be really careful about our direction in the future. We need a viable space industry and a vibrant research and development sector.”