Robot astronaut tweets space plans
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NASA's new robot astronaut "answered" questions from Twitter users about its capabilities, its future and its musical tastes during an online interview Wednesday.
Robonaut 2, known on Twitter as @AstroRobonaut, officially spent an hour tweeting answers to questions submitted by the public starting 11 a.m. ET Wednesday. However, when asked if it could do that on its own, it admitted early on, "I'm getting a LOT of help from my engineering team with the Twittering."
Those with questions had been asked to send them via the hashtag #4R2.
Robonaut 2, developed jointly by NASA and General Motors, has been dubbed the first space-ready humanoid robot — it is scheduled to be sent to the International Space Station this fall. It tweeted that it will head to Kennedy Space Centre on Sunday to prepare for a November launch.
The robot has been designed to use the same tools as crew members with its human-like hands and arms, and will initially be confined to the space station's Destiny laboratory, as it has no legs. When asked what it can do on its own, it said it can grasp, shake hands and lift weights of up to nine kilograms, but all its actions require a start command from an operator.
Robonaut 2 is currently at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It said it wasn't originally built to go into space, "so there were a lot of upgrades to go through and a lot of tests!"
It was coy when asked what it would do on the space station.
"I'm going to go through a lot of tests, first," it tweeted. "Then we'll see — I'm up for anything too dangerous or dull for astronauts."
It said its exact mission for now is to see how it work in space and its biggest challenge will be proving itself in zero gravity before "eventually helping astronauts and maybe [going on] spacewalks!"
The answers mainly focused on more serious questions, but Robonaut 2 did reveal what type of music it listens to. Despite its futuristic appearance and goals, its reported tastes were decidedly retro: "My current favorite is Mr. Roboto."