A consulting engineering firm based in Winnipeg played a major role in Canada’s latest contribution to the International Space Station.
On June 10, the Mobile Base System, which was designed and built by Wardrop Engineering, was attached to the station as it orbits the earth. Live coverage of the event was shown on the NASA TV satellite.
The Mobile Base is a work platform that will be used to transport Canadarm 2 and other equipment along rails from one end of the space station to the other. It is linked to the U.S.-built Mobile Base Transporter, another component in the rail system.
The Mobile Base was carried up to the station on the Shuttle. Once connected, it had to be left overnight to allow its temperatures to equalize with the other elements. Spacewalking astronauts first had to remove thermal blankets which had been used to protect it from the extreme temperatures of space.
Wardrop’s president and CEO, Ernie Card, went to Cape Canaveral, Florida to see the official launch. The firm had a team of about 35 individuals employed on the project. Wardrop’s responsibilities included design, procurement, manufacture, assembly, integration and acceptance testing. The company was also involved in developing other support equipment and mechanisms, including the Power Data Grapple Fixture which forms the interface with the Canadarm. The Wardrop name is included in the crest designed to commemorate the historic event, officially named Mission STS-11, Assembly Flight UF2.
MD Robotics in Brampton, Ontario was in charge of the project, and the team include several other Canadian firms, including Ebco Aerospace, EMS Technologies, Fellfab, Heroux Devtek, MBM Tool and Machine, Rostar Precision and xwave Solutions.