Final Flight Of Space Shuttle Endeavour, Canada's Contribution


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Final Flight Of Space Shuttle Endeavour, Canada's Contribution

By Eddy Metcalf

April 22, 2011 - The final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled for April 29, 2011, at 3:47 p.m. EDT. This is the second-to-last mission before the Space Shuttle program retires later this year. This flight will mark Canadarm's 89th mission since it first flew on Shuttle Columbia for STS-2 in 1981.  

Canada's most famous robotic and technological achievement made its space debut on November 13, 1981. The design and building of the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System marked the beginning of Canada's close collaboration with NASA in manned space flight. The Canadarm project remains a true example of successful international space cooperation. 

Canadarm firmly established Canada's international reputation for robotics innovation and know-how. Its excellent performance record has inspired several generations of scientists and engineers as they develop new technologies for industry, medicine, and other applications.

Canadian astronauts have flown 14 times on the Space Shuttle and once on the Soyuz. Marc Garneau, Chris Hadfield, Dave Williams and Julie Payette are the only Canadians to have flown aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

The Express Logistics Carrier 3 will carry several spare parts for Canadian robots to sustain operations once the Shuttle is retired from service, including: a spare arm for Dextre, remote power controller modules (large circuit breaker boxes), and an arm computer unit (the heart of Canadarm2's computer subsystem). Other spare parts for Canadian robotics include an additional grapple fixture, or anchor point, for Canadarm2. 

The last Canadian science experiment for the Space Shuttle, Hypersole will determine changes in skin sensitivity before and after spaceflight, and whether these changes are related to balance control. Changes in sensitivity will be measured on the foot sole, where skin receptors related to balance and maintaining balance while moving are located. The Principal Investigator for Hypersole is Dr Leah R. Bent of the University of Guelph. Hypersole was first conducted on STS-132 in May 2010.

Data from Hypersole are expected to make a significant contribution to existing studies of the aging process and reductions in information relayed by skin sensors that lead to a loss of balance control and, among the elderly especially, a greater incidence of falls. The data will also provide knowledge that benefits astronauts as they perform their flight and post-flight duties.

Blood samples collected as part of the VASCULAR experiment will be returned to Earth aboard STS-134 for analysis. Health Consequences of Long-Duration Flight (VASCULAR) will conduct an integrated investigation of mechanisms responsible for changes in blood vessel structure with long-duration space flight and will link this with functional and health consequences that parallel changes with the aging process. Dr. Richard Hughson of the University of Waterloo leads the VASCULAR science team, which is funded by the Canadian Space Agency and supported by NASA.

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