From 1981 to 2011, the original Canadarm supported space shuttle missions, deployed satellites, serviced the Hubble Space Telescope, played a major part in the assembly of the International Space Station and was a huge source of Canadian pride. The next generation Canadarm2 was launched in 2001 and installed on the ISS by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

An invaluable hand

We’ve provided engineering, mission support and astronaut training for both generations of Canadarms. The Canadarm2’s first job was to connect itself to a station power supply, then pass its own shipping pallet to the Shuttle Canadarm, which was hailed as the first robotic handshake in space. Today Canadarm2 performs maintenance, moves assets, helps dock spacecraft, and supports astronaut spacewalks.


Dubbed Canada’s “robotic handyman”, Dextre is equipped with 15 degrees-of-freedom and a delicate sense of touch, with the strength to move heavy objects and the dexterity to perform movements even more complex than human hands. It’s no wonder then that Dextre is considered the most sophisticated space robotic system in operation today. Controlled entirely by Earth-based ground operators, the two-armed robot performs tasks normally done by an astronaut, which reduces the frequency of risky spacewalks and allows astronauts to spend more time on mission-related duties inside the space station. 


  • 1497 kg – The mass of Canadarm2; over 1000 kg more than the original; Dextre’s mass is 1710 kg
  • 17 m – The length of Canadarm2; 2 m longer than the original
  • 3.51 m – The length of each of Dextre’s arms, which together can handle payloads up to 589 kg
  • 270° – The amount each of Canadarm2’s seven joints can rotate in either direction
  • 400 km – Canadarm2’s and Dextre’s distance above Earth