CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The first humanoid robot ever launched into space is finally free.
at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 2½
weeks after its arrival via shuttle Discovery. NASA broadcasted the
humorous unveiling ceremony Wednesday.
Catherine Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli pried off the lid of the
robot’s packing box, as though they were opening a coffin. TV cameras
showed lots of foam inside, but no robot.
“It’s like unearthing a mummy,” radioed a payload controller at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
“Well, at least the mummy would be here,” Coleman replied. “We just have an empty box where Robonaut is supposed to be.”
Robonaut—also known as R2—was spotted a minute later in front of a work station.
“I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our crew,” Coleman said. “We’re going to see what Robonaut can do.”
payload controller asked if R2 was related to HAL, the sinister
computer with artificial intelligence from the 1968 film “2001: A Space
“Since we found him already controlling the space station, we’re sure that he is related to HAL. But we’ll see,” Coleman said.
In a Twitter update, R2 announced: “Check me out. I’m in space!” A NASA employee on the ground posted the tweet.
In this March 15, 2011 photo provided by NASA, astronaut Scott Kelly, Expedition 26 commander, right, poses with Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (AP Photo/NASA)
attached NASA’s waist-high R2 to a fixed pedestal, where it will remain
with its fists clenched and its arms folded against its chest until
testing begins in May. The robotic team at Johnson Space Center in
Houston wants to see how R2 performs in weightlessness. The robot is
intended as an astronaut helper, inside the space station, in the decade
Legs should arrive next year.
earthbound twin spent Wednesday at the Smithsonian Institution’s
National Air and Space Museum, performing demonstrations for children.