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Space Shuttle's Robotic Arm Goes on Display at Canadian Museum

• Elizabeth Howell via
 After clocking nearly 100 million miles in orbit, one of the space shuttle program's huge robotic arms was unveiled to the public Thursday (May 2) at its last stop — a museum in the country's capital.

The 50-foot (15 meters) Canadarm 201 completed 27 space shuttle flights before embarking on its latest mission as a permanent display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

It was one of five Canadarms that were delivered to NASA between 1981 and 1993. The arms helped the shuttle program build the International Space Station, service satellites and repair the Hubble Space Telescope; they also served as helping hands in many astronaut spacewalks. [Building the International Space Station (Photos)]

This particular Canadarm was the first to fly in space, riding aboard the second-ever shuttle mission back in November 1981.

Canadarm — known by NASA as the shuttle remote manipulator system (SRMS) — also sparked the genesis of the Canadian astronaut program, which hit a high note in March when astronaut Chris Hadfield assumed command of Expedition 35on the International Space Station.

"In a sense, it's because of Canadarm that I can even be in space," Hadfield said in a video message from orbit that was played at the change-of-command ceremony.

Canadarm 201's success on its maiden flight prompted NASA to extend an invitation for Canadians to join the shuttle program. The first astronaut, Marc Garneau, flew in 1984.

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