Canadarm3 technology to be included on Axiom commercial space station

An artist’s concept of Canada’s smart robotic system, Canadarm3, located on the exterior of the Gateway, a small space station in orbit around the Moon. Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA.

MDA has completed the first sale of Canadarm3 technology which will be used on the Axiom Space commercial space station.

Axiom is currently building the first module, the Axiom Hub One, of its modular space station. The Hub One along wth Hub Two would form the anchor modules attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and would serve as crew quarters and offer research and manufacturing capabilities.

The first module is under construction and is planned to launch to the ISS in late 2024. An Axiom Lab and Power Hub would complete the four module structure. As the ISS nears its end by 2030 the Axiom modular portion would separate and leave the ISS and be placed in its own orbit with additional modules added.

Axiom modular space station attached to the International Space Station. Credit: Axiom Space.
Axiom modular space station attached to the International Space Station. Credit: Axiom Space.

The contract with MDA would see 32 external robotic interfaces attached to the various Axiom modules. Because the initial Axiom modules will be attached to the ISS, the current Canadarm2 will be able to “to build and assemble the new Axiom Station” using the new robotic interfaces.

“MDA’s Canadarm3 interfaces will act as permanent robotic system fixture points on the outside of Axiom Station, forming the foundation for future robotic arm integration and utilization once it separates from the ISS and operates independently.”

The contract is an important one for MDA. It shows that the investment in Canadian robotic technology over the years is now being commercialized in space. As more commercial ventures set up shop in low Earth orbit and eventually in lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon, MDA has positioned itself to be a key robotic supplier. Of note, MDA robotic technology spinoffs from the various Canadarm technology development have already been used on Earth, including for robotic assisted surgery.

MDA’s CEO Mike Greenley said “The sale of our Canadarm3 technology to Axiom Space signifies a major shift in the commercial landscape and is a turning point for MDA as we fulfill our vision of bringing a full suite of space robotics products to market. As the global space economy continues to accelerate, there is increasing demand for a wide variety of space robotics designed to fulfill all kinds of objectives – and MDA is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of this journey, and yet another proof point that MDA can meet the growing needs of space companies around the world.”

Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space who was the NASA Manager of the International Space Station for over 10 years before he left to join Axion said the “Canadarm technology has been a mainstay in human spaceflight and will continue to be a pivotal part in this next chapter in human exploration as we build a robust economy in low Earth orbit that benefits all of humanity, in space and on Earth. We are proud to work with MDA as we build the next-generation microgravity platform Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station, with leading robotic technologies like Canadarm3 technology that will enable limitless innovation and ensure a seamless transition in low Earth orbit.”

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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