In 1962, Canada became the third nation in space with the launch of the satellite Alouette I. Since then, Canada has developed many space technologies, including Canadarm and Canadarm2 for the space shuttle and the international space station. And over its 40-year history, Australia’s Parkes Telescope has played a part in many space missions, including the 1969 Moon landing and the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft. The next big step is Mars.

In 1962, Canada became the third nation in space with the launch of the satellite Alouette I. Since then, Canada has developed many space technologies, including Canadarm and Canadarm2 for the space shuttle and the international space station. And over its 40-year history, Australia’s Parkes Telescope has played a part in many space missions, including the 1969 Moon landing and the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft. The next big step is Mars.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

In 1962, Canada launched the satellite Alouette 1 and became the third nation in space. Some predicted that the satellite would only last a couple of hours, but in fact, Alouette 1 worked for 10 years and sent back valuable data on the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The idea for Alouette 1 came in the early days of the "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union became the first nation in space with the launch of the Sputnik satellite. The United States followed Sputnik with Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. The Americans then invited their allies to design and build satellites for launch on future US rockets. This opened the door to space for Canada.

John Chapman led the team from Canada’s Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment that designed and built Canada’s first satellite. At first, Alouette was going to be an instrument package that would ride on an American satellite, but Chapman pushed for Canada to create its own satellite.

Canadian engineers and scientists wanted to design a satellite that could measure the i Read More
In 1962, Canada launched the satellite Alouette 1 and became the third nation in space. Some predicted that the satellite would only last a couple of hours, but in fact, Alouette 1 worked for 10 years and sent back valuable data on the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The idea for Alouette 1 came in the early days of the "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union became the first nation in space with the launch of the Sputnik satellite. The United States followed Sputnik with Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958. The Americans then invited their allies to design and build satellites for launch on future US rockets. This opened the door to space for Canada.

John Chapman led the team from Canada’s Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment that designed and built Canada’s first satellite. At first, Alouette was going to be an instrument package that would ride on an American satellite, but Chapman pushed for Canada to create its own satellite.

Canadian engineers and scientists wanted to design a satellite that could measure the ionosphere-the region of the atmosphere from 80 km to 1 000 km altitude that was very important to long-range radio reception. In the days before satellite communications, long-range radio signals were bounced off the ionosphere to distant corners of the globe. For a big country like Canada, long-range communications were vital, and understanding the ionosphere was the key to worldwide communications.

Alouette I pushed the limits of early 1960s technology. The Canadian engineers had to build a satellite that could survive the rocket launch; that could carry a 40-metre long antenna and still fit inside the rocket’s 1.5-meter diameter nosecone; and that could measure a wide range of radio channels at once.

American officials were certain that the satellite was too complicated and delicate to survive the stresses of launch. NASA experts privately estimated that the satellite would last perhaps a couple of hours before failing.

Alouette was launched on September 29, 1962, and was joined by Alouette II in 1965; ISIS I in 1969; and ISIS II in 1971. Alouette outlived NASA’s estimated two-hour lifespan by a huge margin; Canadian engineers on the ground turned the satellite off 10 years after it was launched. Alouette I is still in orbit today at an altitude of nearly 1 000 kilometres, where it will remain for thousands of years.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003.

Allouette 1

Allouette 1 was Canada's first satellite in orbit.

Canadian Space Agency
www.space.gc.ca

© Canadian Space Agency


John Chapman

John Chapman.

Canadian Space Agency
www.space.gc.ca

© Canadian Space Agency


Allouette 1 Launch

Allouette 1 heads for space aboard an American Thor-Agena rocket.

Canadian Space Agency
www.space.gc.ca

© Canadian Space Agency


Canada has built two robot arms for NASA’s space program: the Canadarm and Canadarm2. The Canadarm was launched on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 and has been used on many shuttle missions. It’s a remote-controlled arm that helps astronauts move massive equipment and perform complicated manoeuvres in space. The Canadarm is shaped a lot like a human arm and can lift more than 30 000 kilograms-the mass of a bus.

Canadarm2 is part of the International Space Station that is being built about 400 kilometres above the Earth. It’s a bigger and more advanced version of the original Canadarm, and it’s also more mobile. Unlike the Canadarm, which is attached to the shuttle, Canadarm2 can "inchworm" around the space station on its own. It even has sensors that give it a sense of touch. It’s strong enough to move the entire space shuttle-a weight of about 116 000 kilograms.

Canadarm2 will be very important in building the space station, and will also replace parts that wear out or fail.
Canada has built two robot arms for NASA’s space program: the Canadarm and Canadarm2. The Canadarm was launched on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 and has been used on many shuttle missions. It’s a remote-controlled arm that helps astronauts move massive equipment and perform complicated manoeuvres in space. The Canadarm is shaped a lot like a human arm and can lift more than 30 000 kilograms-the mass of a bus.

Canadarm2 is part of the International Space Station that is being built about 400 kilometres above the Earth. It’s a bigger and more advanced version of the original Canadarm, and it’s also more mobile. Unlike the Canadarm, which is attached to the shuttle, Canadarm2 can "inchworm" around the space station on its own. It even has sensors that give it a sense of touch. It’s strong enough to move the entire space shuttle-a weight of about 116 000 kilograms.

Canadarm2 will be very important in building the space station, and will also replace parts that wear out or fail.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Canadarm

The Canadarm was used to install the docking module on the Russian space station Mir in November 1995.

Canadian Space Agency
www.space.gc.ca

© Canadian Space Agency


Chris Hadfield and Canadarm 2

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on the outside of the International Space Station, just below the Canadarm2, during a mission in May 2001.

NASA

© NASA


Although it’s planted firmly on the ground, Australia’s Parkes telescope has been part of space exploration for more than 40 years. The 64-metre telescope tracked NASA spacecraft from the 1960s through to the 1990s. During the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969, Parkes relayed the signal of the historic Moonwalk, which was shown to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

Tracking comets and spacecraft

In 1986, Parkes tracked the European Space Agency’s spacecraft ’Giotto’ in its close-range encounter with Halley’s Comet. The images that Giotto sent back to Parkes showed that the comet was shaped a bit like a potato (but much bigger-15 km by 10 km). The surface of the comet was not bright as astronomers expected, but completely black-covered in organic molecules.

Parkes also played a part in the Voyager and Galileo missions, tracking and gathering information sent from the spacecraft. During Voyager 2’s encounter with Neptune in 1989, the signals traveled 4.5 billion kilometres to reach the Parkes dish.
Although it’s planted firmly on the ground, Australia’s Parkes telescope has been part of space exploration for more than 40 years. The 64-metre telescope tracked NASA spacecraft from the 1960s through to the 1990s. During the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969, Parkes relayed the signal of the historic Moonwalk, which was shown to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

Tracking comets and spacecraft

In 1986, Parkes tracked the European Space Agency’s spacecraft ’Giotto’ in its close-range encounter with Halley’s Comet. The images that Giotto sent back to Parkes showed that the comet was shaped a bit like a potato (but much bigger-15 km by 10 km). The surface of the comet was not bright as astronomers expected, but completely black-covered in organic molecules.

Parkes also played a part in the Voyager and Galileo missions, tracking and gathering information sent from the spacecraft. During Voyager 2’s encounter with Neptune in 1989, the signals traveled 4.5 billion kilometres to reach the Parkes dish.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Personnel in the Parkes control room at the time of Apollo 11

Left to Right (rear): George Kropp, William Reytar L-R (front): Robert Taylor (NASA Operations Manager), Wilson Hunter (Nasa representative in Australia), John Bolton (Director, Parkes Observatory).

CSIRO

© CSIRO


The Parkes radio telescope

The Parkes radio telescope at the time of Apollo 11 in July 1969.

CSIRO
1969
© CSIRO


Parkes Tracking of Moon Landing

"I'm at the foot of the ladder. The landing foot-pads are only impressed in the surface about one or two inches. Though the surface appears to be very very fine grained as you get close to it, its almost like a powder"

"I’m going to step off the ladder now. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

"Are you ready for me to come out?"

"Yes. Just stand by I’m thinking I’m going to move this, hold onto the handrail."

"I want to back up and partially close that… making sure not to lock it on my way out.”

"(Laughs) That's a good thought."

"That’s our home for the next couple of hours, we must take good care of it."

"That’s a good step."

"Yep."

"About a three-footer."

"Beautiful, beautiful."

"Isn’t that something? A magnificent sight out here.”

"Magnificent desolation."

CSIRO

© CSIRO, Australia


NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey probes are already orbiting the planet, and four more missions will arrive in 2003 and 2004. The Parkes telescope will track some of the Mars spacecraft, and other craft, from November 2003 to February 2004.

NASA’s two robotic Mars Exploration Rovers will be looking for evidence of liquid water and analysing rocks and soil. Nozomi, Japan’s first Mars probe, will be studying the upper atmosphere. And Europe’s Mars Express will map surface and subsurface structures. It will drop a British lander, Beagle 2, which will search for signs of water and life.
NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey probes are already orbiting the planet, and four more missions will arrive in 2003 and 2004. The Parkes telescope will track some of the Mars spacecraft, and other craft, from November 2003 to February 2004.

NASA’s two robotic Mars Exploration Rovers will be looking for evidence of liquid water and analysing rocks and soil. Nozomi, Japan’s first Mars probe, will be studying the upper atmosphere. And Europe’s Mars Express will map surface and subsurface structures. It will drop a British lander, Beagle 2, which will search for signs of water and life.

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Mars

Mars.

NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team

© NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe scientific and technological developments, past and present and appreciate their impact on individuals and societies
  • Describe how Canadians have contributed to science and technology on the global stage
  • Describe some of the current space exploration, and the technology being used, or proposed, to accomplish it
  • Develop enthusiasm and continuing interest in the study of science

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