Government renews $81 million contract with MacDonald Dettwiler for space work

The government of Canada has renewed an operations and maintenance contract with MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) for ongoing work with the International Space Station’s Mobile Servicing System. The announcement was made by the minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency, Christian Paradis.

The Canadian government is committed to working on the International Space Station until 2020. Canada has provided the Canadarm2, a handyman robot known as Dextre, and a Mobile Base from which astronauts can work outside the station.

The contract is valued at $81 million and requires MDA to provide real-time technical support, engineering services, flight-specific operational products, software maintenance, and hardware repair for the Canadarm2, Dextre and the Mobile Base, according to a release.

Dextre is the Canadian-built “robotic handyman” aboard the space station. The Canadian Space Agency describes it as “the most sophisticated space robot ever built,” whose mission is to perform maintenance and repairs outside the station. These would include routine tasks like changing batteries and replacing cameras.

The Mobile Base is the moveable work platform and storage facility that astronauts use during space walks. Mounted on a track system that runs the length of the space station it can move key elements, including the Canadarm2, to where they are needed.

The Canadian government is committed to working with its partners on the International Space Station until 2020. Minister Paradis said that Canada’s state of the art robotics technology plays a “key role” in the operation of the space station. The work in developing the Mobile Servicing System for the space station has important spin-off benefits, the release said, including robots developed by MDA for use in pediatric and neurosurgery.

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