Robonaut Joining Space Station Crew

'A giant leap forward for tinmankind'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2010 4:45 AM CDT
Robonaut Joining Space Station Crew
Robonaut 2, seen here with a twin who is staying on Earth, is hitching a one-way ride to the International Space Station on the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery.   (AP Photo/NASA, Robert Markowitz)

International Space Station astronauts won't need to worry about the newest crew member hogging the oxygen or clogging the toilet. Robonaut 2 will become the first humanoid robot in space when he heads to the station this week on the space shuttle Discovery's final mission, AP reports. "R2" will be put through a series of tests before being put to work helping astronauts with chores inside and outside the station.

"While it might be just a single step for this robot, it's really a giant leap forward for tinmankind," a NASA robotics chief quipped. NASA stresses that the role of Robonaut—whose legs will be sent up next year—will be to assist astronauts, especially in emergencies, but not to replace them. R2 will spend the next decade at the ISS and will be on board when the station ceases operation and is sent hurtling into the Pacific sometime after 2020. (More NASA stories.)

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