NASA has just taken a footstep towards specially designed robots for spacecraft. The American space agency has recently accomplished its first hardware analysis of one of its Astrobee robots. Last month, payload delivered to the orbiting lab also included small cube-like robots called Astrobees. Those are specially crafted devices to function in ISS’ microgravity environment. Besides, NASA intends to use those robots to assist the astronauts aboard the space lab with everyday tasks. Now the first Astrobee robot has undergone hardware. During the test, scientists analysed it subsystems along with cameras, propulsion, avionics, etc. They also checked tie-up for power and data transfer.
Bumble is one of the three Astrobee robots that will check out automated caretaking on the ISS. Bumble, Honey, and Queen are three robots, one of them lifted off from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on 17th April. Each robot measures one foot per side and has an arm to hold handrails across the station. According to NASA, the tiny robots can help to enhance space station’s efficiency by helping astronauts in some routine duties. The tasks include keeping records, moving around cargo, and note experiments using the camera. NASA’s so-called Astrobee can itself serve as a research platform to conduct various tests in zero-gravity. The robots have the potential to fly; they use electric fans for the same. Besides, cameras and sensors enable them to see and move across the surroundings.
Maria G. Bualat, Astrobee project manager at NASA, said the Astrobee robots have a potential to work automatically. Even astronauts present aboard, or flight controllers and scientist on Earth can control the robots. As per NASA’s recent post, McClain, NASA astronaut, has performed a series of tests on Bumble. It was a hardware checkout. The space agency also published some images captured while performing the analysis. By using such robots, NASA aims to boost astronaut productivity. It could assist the mission to return to the Moon by minimising the number of astronauts. Also, it would reduce the stress for astronauts travelling in space.