Footage from China’s space station shows how its large robotic arm can “crawl” along the outside of the spacecraft.
The new video from the Chinese Manned Space Agency (CMSA) shows the space station’s 33.5-foot-long (10.2 meters) robotic arm rising up from behind the Tianhe module and reaching out to find a docking port in the foreground.
The footage was captured by panoramic camera D on the Tianhe core module, which launched to China’s new Tiangong space station in April 2021.
The robotic arm has been used in a number of operations, including assisting crews with extravehicular activities, or spacewalks, as well as systems and apparatus checks. Space station operators and astronauts have also used the robotic arm to grasp and maneuver the Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft, which arrived at the station last year.
The Tianhe robotic arm will be used to move new modules due to arrive in orbit in the second half of 2022, relocating them from a frontal docking port to lateral ports to complete the planned T-shaped, Tiangong space station.
Canadarm2, a similar robotic arm that was installed on the International Space Station in 2001, can also travel across the ISS, using fixtures placed on the outside of the station. It also handles heavy payloads and assists astronauts on spacewalks.
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