MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) is taking advantage of their expertise in robotics as they recently signed a multi-million dollar contract amendement with Orbital Sciences Corporation to provide capture and mating solutions for Orbital’s autonomous Cygnus commercial resupply service spacecraft.
Under contract to NASA, Orbital will provide a resupply service to the International Space Station using the Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This includes 8 launches of pressurized cargo missions beginning in late 2011 or early 2012 and running through 2015.
The Cygnus spacecraft will come within close proximity to the station at which time the Canadarm2 will grapple the spacecraft and subsequently berth it with the Station. Cygnus will be outfitted with MDA’s power and video grapple fixture so that the Canadarm2 can grapple it. The grapple fixture attached to Cygnus is also the life-line to the spacecraft, providing power and data to keep its systems fully powered.
The MDA capture and mating solution is also used by Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle which is scheduled to launch this Saturday to the Station.