The UAlberta Engineer who led the Canadarm project

    October 4, 2017

    Garry Lindberg’s career achievements include one of the most visible examples of Canadian engineering ever produced—the Canadarm. This vital piece of equipment was used on more than 50 space shuttle missions.

    Lindberg (UAlberta Engineering Physics ’60, DSc [Hon] ’12) jokes that that NASA had asked engineers at the National Research Council of Canada for something that was impossible to build—they wanted a space crane that was flexible but rigid and strong but virtually weightless. A further complication in inventing this device was that there was no way to conduct 3-D tests of the arm on Earth because the arm could not support its own weight under 1G force.

    Lindberg became manager of the Canadarm project in 1974, while working with the NRC. At its peak, 800 Canadian engineers, scientists and technologists were contributing to the project.

    On Nov. 12, 1981, Canadarm made its space debut aboard the space shuttle Columbia and performed flawlessly.

    In 1989, Lindberg joined the newly created Canadian Space Agency, where he rose to the position of vice-president of research and applications. Lindberg chaired an international committee that promoted and developed environmental and Earth-observing sensors and satellites.