While one chapter of the space program has come to an end with the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, another has begun as a next-generation astronaut just began his tour on board the International Space Station (ISS). The only thing is, he’s a robot. Named Robonaut 2, the robot first arrived at the ISS back in February aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission. However it was only this week that the crew had the first chance to ‘wake up’ their new colleague.

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Robonaut 2, also known as R2, is three feet four inches tall despite having no legs (which he is expected to get in 2013). He does, however have a head, a torso, and two arms and weighs 330 pounds. Earlier this week, mission specialists Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa hooked R2 up to the Destiny laboratory from which ground control could power him for the first time.

Speaking about R2’s first day on the job, Nic Radford, Robonaut deputy project manager said: “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.”

While R2’s head and eyes are still being tested, the team are planning on trailing his arms next month. It is hoped that R2 will be able to perform missions outside the space station using his arms and hands to operate tools.


Via TG Daily