NASA turns on humanoid robot in space station

August 23rd, 2011 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 23 (IANS) NASA Tuesday turned on a humanoid robot in the International Space Station for the first time since it was delivered in February, a media report said.

The test involved sending power to all of Robonaut’s systems, though the robot was not commanded to move, which will happen next week, Daily Mail reported.

Robonaut also has his own Twitter page. He posted Tuesday: “Those electrons feel GOOD! One small step for man, one giant leap for tinman kind.”

The four visible light cameras that serve as Robonaut’s eyes turned on in the gold-coloured head, as did the infrared camera, located in the robot’s mouth and needed for depth perception, the Mail added.

One of Robonaut’s tweets showed the view inside the American lab, Destiny.

“Sure wish I could move my head and look around,” Robonaut said in the tweet.

Robonaut - the first humanoid robot in space - is being tested as a possible astronaut’s helper. The robot’s handlers at Mission Control in Houston cheered as everything came alive, the newspaper said.

The main computers - buried inside Robonaut’s stomach - kicked on, as did the more than 30 processors embedded in the arms for controlling the joints.

“It was just very exciting. It’s been a long time coming to get this thing turned on,” Mail quoted deputy project manager Nicolaus Radford as saying.

The robot was delivered on space shuttle Discovery’s final flight. On Sep 1, controllers will command Robonaut to move its fingers, hands and arms.

Radfrord said: “It’s been asleep for about a year, so it kind of has to stretch out a little bit.”

Robonaut measures three feet four inches tall and weighs 330 pounds. Each arm is two feet eight inches long.

A pair of legs currently are being designed and should be launched in 2013.

For now, Robonaut - also called R2 - is designed to stay inside the space station. Future versions might venture out on spacewalks, saving astronauts time while keeping them safe, according to the Mail.

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