June 14 saw a robot called Bumble become the 1st Astrobee robot that could fly using its very own power out in space. Called Astrobee, it is the name of a free-flight robotic system that can aid researchers in testing new tech in space’s zero-gravity conditions.
It will also be able to conduct routine operations along with astronauts on board the ISS. Robots, which can perform operations autonomously while out in space like Astrobee can function as caretakers for the lunar gateway planned by NASA.
They will also be playing a major part in future missions by NASA for the exploration of Mars and Moon. Prior to Bumble’s 1st solo flight, Astrobee team located at NASA’s ARC in the Valley stated that Bumble was able to recognize its position, enabling navigation within the bounds of the ISS.
CSA astronaut Saint-Jacques also provided help for these pre-launch tests, by manually moving the robot Bumble around Kibo lab, this allowing its navigation system an opportunity for calibration based on new surroundings.
For proper navigation, the system utilizes a camera which can observe the bot’s surroundings, allowing for comparison of its surroundings with a map fed into it of the interior of station.
Astrobee’s robots are capable of moving in directions which they require and can turn at the required axis while in space.
Bumble’s initial flights tested its basic motions like flying forward and rotation to various directions. NASA is likely to continue testing of its movement capability by making it do more complex maneuvers, which can determine its performance abilities while in a zero gravity situation.
These results can be utilized to tune the Astrobee robot’s propulsion system, helping Bumble get prepared for assuming its new role as a crewmember aboard the ISS. Another Astrobee named Honey and Bimble will be launched in April. Another robot called Queen will be launched in July as well.