MDA Issues Unprecedented RFI to Support a Canadian Next Generation Robotic Manipulator System

Canadarm2 Latching End Effector as seen on the October 10th, 2017 spacewalk. Credit: NASA.

In anticipation of a contribution to a future international mission beyond low Earth orbit, MDA has issued an unprecedented Request for Information (RFI). As far as I can recall, this is the first time MDA has issued an RFI of this nature.

The RFI states that “MDA, under contract to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is seeking out Canadian capabilities necessary to realize a next generation robotic manipulator system for the Deep Space Gateway. These capabilities broadly cover advanced technologies, products, components, services and manufacturing technologies. MDA will compile the responses and provide CSA with an assessment of Canadian Capabilities related to developing a next-generation human-robotic system for the Deep Space Gateway.”

MDA is in essence cataloguing expertise across Canada for its supply chain.

The RFI further states “the Canadian capabilities of interest for this RFI are applicable to the Robotics and Automation Division of MDA for commercial and civil applications.”

Continuing the Deep Space Gateway Strategy

It’s important to understand that this RFI, along with others from the Canadian Space Agency related to the Deep Space Gateway, comes as a result of years of planning by the international community on a long-term goal of a permanent human presence beyond Low Earth Orbit to continue the human exploration of the solar system.

Last week, the 15 member International Space Exploration Coordination Group, which the Canadian Space Agency is a member of, released its latest publication, a white paper titled Scientific opportunities enabled by human exploration beyond Low-Earth-Orbit. This document is meant to provide more justification to its members as they try to convince their respective countries to move forward with the Beyond Low Earth Orbit plan. Notably, that paper was produced with support by a small science advisory group that includes Dave Hart from the University of Calgary and Gordon Osinski of Western University.

The RFI comes 10 days after the CSA issued a related RFP for a Priority Technology 10, a Dexterous Interface and Tool For Planetary and Deep Space.

MDA has a set a due date for responses of February 23, 2018.

Canadian Capabilities to Support a Future Canadian Robotic Manipulator System
MDA

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 18 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 25 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.