MDA plays role on shuttle

Having two astronauts aboard the International Space Station is not the only Canadian contribution to the current space mission with B.C.-based

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Canadarm1 (top) moves the Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility (JEF) to hand off to the International Space Station's Canadarm2 (lower left) during robotics activities on Saturday.

VANCOUVER — Having two astronauts aboard the International Space Station is not the only Canadian contribution to the current space mission with B.C.-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.’s (TSX:MDA) also playing a major role.

A year after the company, known as MDA, tried to sell its satellite and robotics division to an American defence contractor it remains in the space game and involved in what it calls a “robotics intensive mission.”

MDA technology on the mission includes everything from the boom used to inspect the equipment to the Canadarm, Canadarm 2 and the robotic station used to work it.

Canadian astronaut Julie Payette is handling eight hand-off manoeuvres from the Canadarm to Canadarm 2.

MDA also built the hand of the Japanese robotic arm that is being used.

“This is the most robotic activity that has ever been performed,” said Richard Rembala, a lead engineer at MDA’s offices in Brampton, Ont.

Rembala said MDA has been preparing for the mission for more than a year. And while the company has always been a big part of every space mission, its role gets more complex as the space station expands and the technology advances.

“There would be no space station without MDA technology,” said Rembala.

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