May 28, 2014 3:03 pm

Canadian robot becomes first to fix itself in space

Dextre, the Canadian-built robotic arm, aboard the International Space Station.

NASA

TORONTO – Imagine having a broken arm and being able to fix it yourself. That’s pretty much what Canada’s technological pride and joy, the space station robotic arm Dextre, did this week.

On Tuesday, Dextre completed the job of replacing two cameras on Canadarm 2, the mobile base on the International Space Station, which took place over the past week. It became the first robot to perform surgery on itself while in space.

WATCH: Animation of robot repairing itself aboard the ISS

Dextre is a robot that rides along Canadarm 2, allowing it unprecedented dexterity on the Earth-orbiting scientific platform. Together, the pair make up the station’s Mobile Servicing System.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) live-tweeted the camera swap on Wednesday, chronicling the historic work.

Of course, astronauts could have done the work, but being able to have a robot do the job means keeping humans safe from the perils of working in space. And Dextre’s success means good things for the future of living and working in space: eventually we may see robots continue to repair themselves, or refuel and reposition satellites in space. It also means that we can depend more on using robots to construct or replace new satellites.

The first generation of robotic arm, the Canadarm, was launched aboard the space shuttles. The arms helped capture and deploy satellites. In 2001, Canadarm2 was launched and played a crucial role in the construction of the International Space Station. It continues to capture payloads.

Dextre was launched in 2008 and performs maintenance work and repairs.

Of course, no self-respecting robot would miss the opportunity to take a selfie after such hard work.

Work is expected to continue until May 29.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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