Canada’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator or Dextre for Short having past its final exams in December is now officially on the job. It was 11 days ago that the Japanese H-2B Transfer Vehicle (HTV2) or as it is known as, Kounotori2, docked with the International Space Station with the help of another Canadian robot, Canadarm2.
According to the Canadian Space Agency, Dextre successfully completed its first official tasks early in the morning last Friday when it unpacked two critical pieces of equipment ferried to the Station by Japan’s Kounotori2 spacecraft.
While on the end of the Canadarm2, Dextre unbolted a spare Flex Hose Rotary Coupler which is part of the International Space Station’s cooling system and placed it on its tool storage platform known as EOTP for the Enhanced Orbital Replacement Unit Temporary Platform. Then Dextre unfastened the Cargo Transfer Container, which will remain in the robot’s specialized hands until the Express Logistics Carrier 4 stowage platform can be installed on the Station during the upcoming STS-133 mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
“There were a few times tonight when Dextre’s human operators had to recalibrate as we zeroed in on our target,” says Tim Braithwaite, the Canadian Space Agency’s representative at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. “This seems to be the result of the Station’s structure itself flexing, effectively making a moving target for the ground operator to grasp. It’s a bit like standing on the end of a dive board at the pool, and using a long skimmer to scoop a tennis ball that keeps bouncing about in choppy water. We know from our early checkout sessions that Dextre’s arms are stable and precisely controllable; however, when the target is literally drifting before the camera, it poses a unique challenge for our operators. Tonight, though, the team put their experience to good use, and Dextre went on to deliver a flawless performance.”