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Astrobee Docking Station Delivered to the International Space Station for Installation
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Astrobee Docking Station Delivered to the International Space Station for Installation

On November 17, 2018, the Astrobee Docking Station launched onboard a Northrup Grumman 10 (NG-10) rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus cargo ship was captured and berthed at the Unity module of the International Space Station (ISS) on November 19, 2018. The Docking Station will be installed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) prior to launch of the Astrobee free flyers in the Spring of 2019.

BACKGROUND: The Astrobees are next-generation free-flying robots that will operate in the interior of the ISS. Their primary purpose is to provide a flexible platform for research on zero-gravity free-flying robotics, with the ability to carry a wide variety of future research payloads and guest science software. They will also serve utility functions: as free-flying cameras to record video of astronaut activities, and as mobile sensor platforms to conduct surveys of the ISS. They are developed under the Human Exploration Telerobtics 2 (HET2) project.

The HET2 project demonstrates how telerobotics – robots remotely operated by astronauts or ground controllers – can be used to perform a variety of routine, highly repetitive, dangerous, or long-duration tasks. The primary goal of HET is to improve NASA’s understanding of the requirements, benefits, limitations, costs, and risks of integrating telerobotics into future deep-space exploration missions.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: The Human Exploration Telerobotics 2 (HET2) project is primarily funded by the Game Changing Development (GCD) program, under the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), with additional funding from the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program, under the Human Exploration and Operations Missions Directorate (HEOMD).

TEAM: The Astrobee team is composed of over 30 researchers, engineers, and technicians from the Intelligent Systems Division and the Engineering Directorate at NASA Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Upon completion of the project, Astrobee will be delivered to the Advanced Exploration Systems program.


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