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Robot's Space Debut 'giant Leap For Tinmankind'

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Robonaut 2 and astronaut Michael Barratt

NASA astronaut and STS-133 mission specialist Michael Barratt shakes hands with Robonaut 2 during a news conference in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Credit: Lauren Harnett / NASA

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is sending a humanoid robot, called Robonaut 2 (R2), to the International Space Station for the first time. R2 is made of aluminum and nickel-based carbon fiber and has more than 350 electrical sensors throughout its body. R2 is humanoid from the waist up and measures three feet, four inches tall and weighs 330 pounds. It can carry out preprogrammed orders by itself, once the orders are given. The objective is to help astronauts, not replace them, NASA says.

"While it might be just a single step for this robot, it's really a giant leap forward for tinmankind," says NASA's Rob Ambrose.

Once onboard the space station, R2 will undergo tests to see how it performs in weightlessness when attached to a fixed pedestal. NASA plans to send legs next year that will enable it to perform indoor chores, and future torso and computer enhancements will allow it to take space walks. R2 is expected to be onboard the space station until it stops operating sometime after 2020.

From The Associated Press
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