NASA is all set to send a pair of robots to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday. Two years ago, NASA unveiled Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube created especially to hover around the ISS. On Wednesday, a pair of Astrobee robots will be sent to the ISS via a Cygnus cargo flight.
Once the robots reach the ISS, they will be taken care of by a nice comfy dock in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). After that, the robots will be put into work. The robots will move around by their own after a bit of astronaut- assisted setup. The robots will record videos, conduct experiments, and even operate without any direct human supervision.
The size of each Astrobee robot is about 30 centimeters on a side. There is a propulsion system chipped inside the robots. A pair of impellers surrounds the propulsion system. The impellers are used to pressurize air inside the robot.
Coming to the rotation and translation, the robot can do them by opening and closing different nozzles in different combinations.
There are onboard sensors inside the robots along with computing to carry out fully autonomous operations. The software inside the robot is based on ROS and can be upgraded on-orbit.
In terms of operations, the robot can carry different payloads. An arm will be equipped on the robot. The arm will be useful for the astronauts while capturing videos without running motors.