NASA astronauts boost robotics on space station

Spacewalkers give Canadarm II new footing and will leave shuttle arm at station

NASA astronauts prepared today for their fourth and final spacewalk during the space shuttle Endeavour's last mission to the International Space Station.

Much of the astronauts' focus today and Friday is on increasing the robotics capability of the orbiting space station before they head for home.

The Endeavour and its six-man crew is 10 days into its 16-day mission to bring supplies, equipment and experiments to the space station. With three spacewalks behind them, the shuttle astronauts are gearing up for what will not only be the mission's last spacewalk but also the last spacewalk for any shuttle astronauts.

While space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make the shuttle fleet's final launch next month, the crew will not make any spacewalks. Instead, space station crew members will make the rest of the spacewalks, according to NASA.

Earlier today, members of the space shuttle crew used the robotic arm onboard the shuttle to perform one last inspection of the vehicle's heat shield and wings. This inspection usually is done after the shuttle undocks from the space station. However, since this is Endeavour's final trip aloft, spacewalkers Friday morning will take the shuttle's robotic arm off the spacecraft and attach it to the space station, giving it one more piece of robotics to use.

The procedure isn't the only robotic work being performed on this shuttle mission.

Endeavour also delivered a spare robotic hand and arm for the humanoid robot that was recently moved onto the space station.

On Wednesday's spacewalk, astronauts worked on Canadarm II, the main robotic arm on the space station.

During a six-hour, 54-minute spacewalk early Wednesday, astronauts Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke installed a power and data grapple fixture on the Russian Zarya module. The fixture will act as a base or foot for Canadarm II. The robotic arm will be able to move much like an inchworm across the backbone of the space station. The arm will be able to reach out and grasp onto the new base, and then that base will become the arm's anchor so the other end can release its old base and become the arm's hand.

Moving on to this new base on the Russian module, will greatly extend Canadarm II's reach.

Wednesday's spacewalk brought the total time spent for station assembly construction and maintenance to 995 hours and 13 minutes during 158 spacewalks, according to NASA. Friday spacewalk is expected to break the 1,000-hour mark.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hardwareGovernment use of ITNASAEmerging TechnologiesIT in Governmenthardware systemsgovernment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things


Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on PC World

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?