Technology By Elizabeth Howell 609 Views

Canada Joins NASA's Lunar Gateway Station Project with 'Canadarm3' Robotic Arm

NASA's Lunar Gateway space station project has secured its first international partnership. Canada pledged to contribute a "Canadarm3" smart robotic arm to repair and maintain the Gateway, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Feb. 28 at an event attended by several ministers and astronauts. The contribution follows in the path of Canadarm2, Canada's arm aboard the International Space Station, and Canadarm on the space shuttle.

Canadarm3 will include a main arm to do large-scale work for repairs and spacewalks, much like Canadarm2, and a smaller arm that will carry out more dexterous robotics tasks, similar to Canada's Dextre robotic "handyman" on the space station. Canadarm3 will also operate autonomously, since Gateway is supposed to continue operations even when humans are not on board the new complex.

Canada pledges to spend 2.05 billion Canadian dollars ($1.56 billion) on this project during the next 24 years. This will include development and operations for Canadarm3 as well as a Lunar Exploration Acceleration Program to encourage small- and medium-size Canadian businesses to develop lunar technologies in robotics, artificial intelligence and health.