It was my first time visiting the NASA website on November 6, one day after the space shuttle was delayed. According to NASA, Discovery’s launch was delayed due to a leak in the ground umbilical carrier plate (GUCP). NASA explained on their website how the GUCP has sensors that can detect hydrogen leakage which has caused the STS-133 to be delayed. I had no idea why the space shuttle was going into outer space until I searched the NASA website and found a legless human like robot that was expected to go to outer space. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot to launch into outer space, has a copper helmet reminding me of the kind a Power Ranger has. I thought I was looking at something from the movie Star Wars, until I found that Robonaut 2 also known as R2, has a Twitter. R2 will act as an assistant to astronauts. General Motors worked with NASA to help create this robot. Tests will be done to see if R2 can perform the same tasks as the astronauts.
Watching R2 move his fingers and make muscles was beyond amazing. Before launching, this special robot has to be pre packed which looked like a long process when I saw the video. NASA packed R2 in a steel box, followed by a heavy plastic looking square, and placed him in the shuttle preparing him for takeoff. The robot will be joined by six other astronauts on the final mission of shuttle Discovery. The human-like robot will travel one way and won’t return to earth. Discovery will retire after this last mission. This shuttle has been on 38 missions and flown 180 people into space (nasa.gov). It’s interesting to see how scientist and engineers create advanced technology. But to see something as advanced as R2 really has gotten me excited about the space launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
To follow Robonaut 2 and read updated tweets, you can follow @AstroRobonaut.
Discovery’s next launch date is scheduled on November 30, 2010 at 4:05am EST.
Video of Robonaut 2