2K40
Characters Section

Door 3: George J. Klein (one of the designers of the Space Shuttle’s Canadarm)

Hand drawn portrait of George J. Klein inside the survival module

1904-1992

I am considered the most prolific Canadian inventor of the 20th century. I invented many things in a number of fields. For instance, I designed the retractable antennas of Alouette, the first Canadian communications satellite, and the first satellite launched into orbit by a country other than the USSR or the United States. Getting two antennas 45.7 and 22.8 metres long into a small satellite was quite a challenge! I also invented the electric wheelchair for quadriplegics and a microsurgical staple gun to reattach blood vessels. In the 1940s, I led the team of engineers that designed the first Canadian nuclear reactor. So my contributions weren’t just in the field of space.

My inventions often had mechanical or robotic components. Did you know that the term “robot” comes from the Czech word robota, which means forced or unpaid labor. The word was coined in 1920 by the playwright Karel Capek.

Have you ever noticed that robots often move just like humans? For example, a robot pincer opens and closes like the fingers of a human hand. Factories frequently use robots on assembly lines. They are tireless, accurate, fast, and increasingly able to imitate human (and superhuman) movements. But they still have to be programmed correctly, which is what you must do in the survival station.

In 2k40, I will help you program a robot arm similar to the Space Shuttle’s remote manipulator, the Canadarm, which I invented. This 15-metre mechanical arm can move up to 266,000 kg at a time in microgravity, and the Space Shuttle has a computer on board dedicated entirely to its operation. Robots sometimes seem intelligent, but they rely entirely on their programming to perform the correct actions. Good luck!

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