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NASA's Robonaut 2 comes alive for the 1st time in space

R2, clad in a golden helmet, has a torso, two arms and two five-fingered hands.

Robonaut 2 or R2, the first dexterous humanoid robot ever to be launched into space, was finally “brought to life” on Monday.

Nearly six months after its delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) flight engineers Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa hooked R2 up inside the Destiny laboratory and electronically powered the robot for the first time abroad the orbiting complex.

According to NASA, the astronauts did not give R2 a command to move but they ran a battery of tests to check its wiring and internal connections, particularly the thermal response sensors in its joints.

Nic Radford, Robonaut deputy project manager, stated, "Everything came alive. We started getting video out of Robonaut’s eyes. Everything worked exactly as we expected it to. It was a very, very exciting time.”

"Those electrons feel GOOD! One small step for man, one giant leap for tinman kind."--R2 Twitter update

The Robonaut 2
Jointly developed by NASA and General Motors engineers at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, R2 was delivered to ISS on Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission in February.

The robot built with a total of 38 PowerPC processors, including 36 embedded chips measures three feet four inches tall and weighs 330 pounds.

R2, clad in a golden helmet, has a torso, two arms and two five-fingered hands. Each arm is two feet eight inches long.

As of now, R2 is waist high and attached to a pedestal with its fists clenched and its arms folded against its chest until testing begins in September.

Legs which are being designed to give it more mobility around the orbiter should be attached to R2 by next year. In keeping with the current trends, R2 has its own twitter page.

On coming alive, in a twitter update R2 announced, "Those electrons feel GOOD! One small step for man, one giant leap for tinman kind."

R2 to assist astronauts
The robotic team wants to see how R2 performs in weightlessness. The robot is intended as an astronaut helper, inside the space station. It is expected to perform tasks such as cleaning and basic maintenance inside the orbiter.

Once it is fully built, NASA hopes it will also help astronauts outside on spacewalks as they make mechanical fixes to the space station.