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Astrobee Team Conducts Successful Localization and Mobility Session With the Astrobee Free-Flyer on the ISS
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Astrobee Team Conducts Successful Localization and Mobility Session With the Astrobee Free-Flyer on the ISS

On Friday, June 14, the first Astrobee robot, Bumble Bee, flew under its own power on the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time. During the first Localization and Mobility session, the Astrobee team verified the robot's ability to hold position (station keeping against a variety of external forces), to perform specific motions (translations and rotations), and to navigate using its computer vision system. Over the next two sessions, the team will continue to test and tune the mobility and navigation system to perform increasingly complex motions.

BACKGROUND: The Astrobees are next-generation free-flying robots that 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 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 Telerobotics 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, and 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 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.


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