NASA’s Astrobee cube robot completes first hardware tests in space

NASA Dives Into Habitation Prototypes Testing

Source Northrop NASA

To her right is the docking station that was installed in the Kibo module on the International Space Station on February 15.

NASA delivered the Astrobee robots to the ISS on April 17 aboard a Northrop Grumman resupply mission. During the test, it was checked whether the robot's subsystems such as avionics, cameras, propulsion, and docking for power and data transfer, are working properly or not. Robots on Earth rely on wheels, treads, or legs to get around, but none of those are any good in space. The Astrobee robots are free-flying, able to zip around the ISS using small electric fans at the behest of ground control or astronauts on the station.

NASA has successfully finished the first hardware test of a robot in space.

Bumble, the first Astrobee robot to power up in space, blinks while connected to its docking station in the Kibo module of the International Space Station.

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Astrobee is a test to see how robots can take care of spacecraft when astronauts are away, which NASA explained will be crucial for deep-space missions, such as its plan to return to the moon.

When in service, the Astrobee robots will effectively become spaceborne Roombas - they'll test how well robots can handle day-to-day maintenance and assist the crew.

They can take inventory, document experiments thanks to in-built cameras or help the astronauts move cargo around.

Each robot is a cube shape measuring one foot per side, and is equipped with an arm which allows it to grab onto handrails around the station. The robots are modular too, which means more features can be added when needed. The bots are also little scientists themselves, as they can act as a research platform which can carry out experiments when outfitted with the required elements.

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