A robot is on the International Space Station? Absolutely. While the crew practices for reception of the SpaceX Dragon supply ship due to launch as early as February 18th, Robonaut is being activated and checked out for operations.
Three Expedition 50 crew members practiced today the robotic capture of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship when it arrives at the International Space Station two days after its launch. A humanoid robot, better known as Robonaut, had its power supply checked out during a full day of troubleshooting.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet partnered up and practiced capturing the Dragon cargo ship using the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo will be in the cupola Monday morning to capture Dragon following its 10:01 a.m. EST Saturday launch from Kennedy Space Center. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will assist her crewmates and monitor Dragon’s approach and rendezvous.
Dragon is packing nearly 5,500 pounds of crew supplies, station gear and advanced science experiments. Some of the research will look at new technologies to improve space travel, observation gear to study Earth’s ozone and processes to improve how medicine works.
Whitson worked throughout the day on the robotic astronaut assistant, Robonaut. She opened up Robonaut’s torso and checked its cables and computer cards searching for an intermittent fault in its power supply. The humanoid robot is being tested for its ability to assist astronauts in the future with routine tasks and high risk activities.
Please read below more crew activity from yesterday. Also, SpaceX has announced they may launch as early as tomorrow:
The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for the upcoming SpaceX CRS-10 mission to resupply the International Space Station. Commander Shane Kimbrough checked out SpaceX communications gear today so the astronauts can monitor the approach and rendezvous of the Dragon cargo craft.
SpaceX is targeting Feb. 18 to launch its Dragon space freighter atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the station two days later for a robotic capture and a month-long stay at the Harmony module
Kimbrough also joined Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet for periodic eye exams during the afternoon. The trio started the day collecting blood and urine samples and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis on the ground. The ongoing human research helps doctors understand how living in space affects astronauts as NASA plans longer-term missions farther out into space.
Kimbrough and his Soyuz MS-02 crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko are now set to return to Earth April 10 officially ending the Expedition 50 mission. Whitson will become Expedition 51 commander and continue her stay on the station with fellow crew members Pesquet and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy.
Two new Expedition 51 crew members will launch to the station April 20. Veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will take a single-day ride inside the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft to begin their mission on orbit.
Written By: Mark Garcia NASA
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