During a recent press statement, a NASA spokesperson declared that Robonaut, the long-armed robotic assistant designed to aid astronauts in their tasks, will be decommissioned and sent back to Earth for repairs. The robot stopped working in 2015, following a series of hardware upgrades that went wrong.
Robonaut Could Not Be Repaired on the International Space Station
Shipped to the International Space Station in 2011, Robonaut should have become a functioning member of the ISS scientific community, helping astronauts performing their daily tasks. According to a NASA spokesperson, when Robonaut first arrived, it only had a pair of arms, a gold-plated head, and just a torso.
After being activated, Robonaut was programmed to keep an eye on oxygen levels and to keep the handrails neat and clean. Over the years, the crew added tentacle-like limbs which should have theoretically enhanced the robot’s functionality, being able to perform even more tasks.
However, during the installation and hardware upgrade process, something went wrong, and Robonaut simply stopped working. At that time, NASA concluded that the astronauts didn’t have the necessary expertise to upgrade Robonaut’s hardware, which led to a system malfunction.
According to the spokesperson, the upgrade process shouldn’t have taken more than 20 hours, but the astronauts completed it in roughly 40 hours. Since 2015, Robonaut lies dormant in one of the pressurized bays, waiting to spring into action.
Recently, NASA has decided that it’s high time the robot gets the care it deserves. The robot will be sent to Earth, where the NASA technicians will attempt to make the necessary repairs. Diagnostics revealed that the problem lies in the robot’s grounding, meaning that the electric current doesn’t flow the way it should throughout its body, powering out some circuits, while flying others.
The robotic astronaut is expected to return to the space station in the following years.
Image source: Pixabay