NASA has successfully finished the first hardware test of a robot in space. The robot will be taking care of the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years. Dubbed Bumble, the robot is one of the three Astrobee robots that will research automated caretaking on the SS.
Bumble and its partner robot called Honey were launched to the ISS on April 17 placed atop Northrop Grumman's eleventh commercial resupply services mission from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. If required, the robots are capable of returning to the docking station without any assistance and recharge their batteries, NASA said in a statement.
Astrobee is a free-flying robot system that will provide a research platform for the International Space Station. The system includes three robots and a docking station for the bots to refuel. These robots will come in handy during the space agency's lunar missions and other deep space missions.
Besides, NASA has shortlisted 11 firms including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to build prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration mission. The space agency aims to put the first woman on the Moon's south pole by 2024 and continue with more advanced missions in 2028.
NASA also has plans to build a lunar gateway for deep space missions. The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will be a base in the Moon's orbit for studying deep-space environment. It will also serve as a station for astronauts going on a mission to Mars.
The space agency has already confirmed that an Orion spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin will ferry astronauts to the lunar gateway, and the service module will be supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA). The spacecraft will take its first flight in 2020. The space agency has taken an aggressive approach after the Vice President's challenge to start the lunar mission withing next five years.