Next steps European Robotic Arm
On September 21, exactly two months after the successful launch of the Airbus-built European Robotic Arm (ERA), ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and his Russian colleagues attempted to switch on ERA to test if all systems are functioning. This effort was partly successful: due to faults in the data bus connection between the central computer of the Russian Segment and Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka (with ERA), the arm itself could not be operated. The control panels of ERA have been successfully tested by connecting them directly to the central computer. RSC Energia, the Russian aerospace manufacturer of Nauka, is investigating the malfunctions and the measures to be taken. If the data bus is operational, the In-Orbit Commissioning test programme of ERA will be completed, which is expected to take place by the end of the year.
The first moves with the European Robotic Arm are planned in January and February 2022. It will take five spacewalks to get the robotic arm fit for space operations. ERA’s first tasks in orbit are to set up the airlock and install a large radiator for the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’.