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Remote Manipulator System

CANADARM (this is the correct, official name for the arm itself, while RMS is the name used originally by the technical commmunity to describe the entire system including the arm and its control mechanism) is one of the largest robot arms ever built. It was designed to deploy and pick up satellites without requiring specialized devices for each different design. It was also designed for use entirely in space and therefore cannot even move its own weight on the ground.

Canadian construction of the arm is the result of an agreement between NASA and the National Reasearch Council of Canada in 1975. It was NASA's wish to make the Space Transportation System trruly INTERNATIONAL. The CANADARM is only one of a long list of co-operative Canada/U.S. Space Projects. CANADARM was designed, built and tested by Spar Aerospace Ltd. of Canada.


Sorry, I got so caught up in the moment... So where was I???
I was right in the middle of explaining what it was, right???

When size DOES matter...

Well, this thing is 15.3
m long (for you, not so furuistic americans, it's 50ft. 3in. hehehehe)
Sorry about that... But I'm telling you!
Metric System is the FUTURE, BABY!!
hehehehehe (Sorry Again..)
So back to where I was...

So What's it look like???

It has six joints : shoulder (with two degrees of freedom), elbow (one degree of freedom), and wrist (with three degrees of freedom). The upper and lower arms are built from graphite epoxy tubing that would break easily on the ground. Althoughobjects are weightless in Space, the arm must be considered as fragile, like a straw linking two bricks.

Ma,I wanna play with it!!!

The arm's joints are powered by electric motors controlled by one of the shuttle's GPC (General Purpose Computers). They can be directed either by a program in the computer or by switching the individual motors on and off directly. Full automatic operations with the CANADARM, making it a true robot, have been done mainly for test purposes. In most cases, it has been teleoperated mannipulator or waldo witht eh astronauts controlling it through a joystick.

Am I gonna be on National TV???

As they "fly" the end of the CANADARM, using the closed-circuit TV view through the wrist camera or watching out the window, the computer generates commands to the various motors, just as you lower brain controlsindivisual muscles when your thought is to pick up a cup.
Direct control of indivisual motors is reserved for failures in the control system. In case everything breaks down, the astronaut can reel into its launch cradle during an EVA or jettison it remotely.
THe CANADARM is equipped with two closed-circuit TV cameras - one near the wrist and one at the elbow. The wrist camera can be zoomed. There is also a viewing light at the wrist for additional illumination. The elbow camera can be panned and tilted, but not zoomed.

KIDS! Don't try this at home!!

This thing can lift up to 14 515.2
kg (Yeah, yeah, 32,000lbs) in normal operations and up to 29 484kg (65,000 lbs) in emergencies.

Normally only onne arm is aboard the shuttle (at the forward port corner of the Payload bay). Provisions are made for mounting a second arm at the forward starboard corner as well.
However, only one arm could be operated at a time because there is only one software package and one display & control.