In recent news, Robonaut 2 aboard the International Space Station is about to get legs and more freedom. Moving around inside and outside the station will now be possible with the humanoid robot and its not so human legs. As high tech as R2 is, the work awaiting it in all locations will be those annoying repetitive tasks the astronauts will be happy to have someone else accomplish while they work on more complex projects. These legs give R2 a 9 foot extension, allowing it to "stand" head and shoulders above the rest. The "end effectors" allow R2 to hang onto handrails and sockets, freeing up its upper extremities for other work. The cameras beside the effectors will assure R2 is where R2 needs to be and will eventually allow the robot to work more autonomously.
|Image Courtesy of NASA|
Amusingly, the legs are headed for space aboard the Space X CRS-3 resupply mission, delivering 5000 pounds of materials to the ISS, which will be boosted by the Falcon 9 rocket sporting new landing legs of its own. In time, these legs will be used to make future Falcon 9 rockets fully reusable, returning to a landing site from a powered descent, landing on those legs, enabling the rocket to be refurbished, refueled, and sent on its way once again. The launch date for the resupply mission is tentatively set for March 30 (all launches are tentative until they happen).
So, right now, "space news has legs," so to speak!