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Astronauts fixing the Canadarm 2 robotic arm on the International Space Station. Picture: Nasa

Nasa astronauts carry out maintenance work on robotic arm on the International Space Station


Nasa astronauts went on a spacewalk today to replace one of the two Latching End Effectors on the International Space Station’s robot arm, called Canadarm 2. 

The two astronauts were named as Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, and the duration of the spacewalk was said to be 55 minutes.

The astronauts also carried out a range of additional maintenance and upgrading tasks, including the removal of the multi-layer insulation from a spare direct current switching unit, and preparing a flex hose rotary coupler for future use. 

As well as this successful mission, Nasa has planned two other spacewalks for this month, and they will also involved maintenance and upgrading tasks, such as the lubrication of the end effectors of the robot.

According to, Canadarm 2 was launched in 2001 and was showing some wear and tear.


Two latching end effectors are used on Canadarm 2 – one to anchor the robotic arm to the station and the other to reach out into space and grab objects.

In a separate development, but still related to space and alien technologies, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, a global communications and information company providing technology solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide, has completed its acquisition of DigitalGlobe, a provider of high-resolution Earth imagery and information about our planet.

The merger is said to create “the leading integrated commercial provider of satellites, imagery and geospatial solutions” to commercial and government customers worldwide.

The newly combined company will offer a broader set of space-based solutions, increased scale and a more diversified revenue base, says MDA, which will now change its name to Maxar Technologies.

Howard Lance, president and chief executive officer of MDA, says: “Today is a very exciting day for our customers, partners, employees and shareholders.

“Together, in partnership with the outstanding team at DigitalGlobe, our combined company will offer an unmatched suite of solutions, benefit from increased scale and a more diversified revenue base, and drive increased value by leveraging the sales channels of both companies.

“The combination of our strong, diversified core businesses will create expanded opportunities for team members and customers alike. I am very excited to get to work with the new leadership team to drive top and bottom line growth and future success.”

Additionally, about a dozen senior executives from the two companies – MDA and Digital Globe – will be appointed to similar leadership positions at the newly created Maxar Technologies.