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Astrobee Project to Conduct Remote Science Session During Shelter-in-Place Order
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Astrobee Project to Conduct Remote Science Session During Shelter-in-Place Order

The Astrobee project will be running a science session, “Astrobee B Localization Mobility 1”, this April 30th. Commanding the Astrobee free-flying robot on the International Space Station (ISS) will be conducted remotely from individual team members’ homes during the Shelter in Place order vs. the usual procedure from Ames Research Center.

The scope of this session involves the following main objectives:

  1. Validate the reliability of the Astrobee ISS mapping data gathered on November 1st, 2019
  2. Gather more images for mapping improvements
  3. Commission the second Astrobee robot, “Honey”, for operations (the first Astrobee unit, “Bumble”, was commissioned back in June, 2019)

Completing this science session will also support the upcoming Japanese Aerosapce eXploration Agency (JAXA) project, the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge (Kibo-RPC Checkout), that will use Astrobee(s) on May 13th. Kibo-RPC Checkout is a student robotics competition.

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 were developed under the Human Exploration Telerobotics 2 (HET2) project and are currently managed by the Astrobee Facility 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 was 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). The Astrobee Facility project is funded by the ISS program’s Research Integration Office.

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.

POINT OF CONTACT: Jose Benavides, jose.v.benavides@nasa.gov

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