Robot Astronaut Hitched a Ride in SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule and Returned to Earth

NASA gets back Robonaut 2 1 photo
Photo: NASA/GM
A few days ago, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule returned from space, loaded with more than two tons of NASA equipment sent down from the International Space Station (ISS). Onboard the Dragon was also a very special passenger.
The capsule brought back to Earth the Robonaut, a humanoid-shaped machine developed together with former automotive giant GM. The robot has been recalled by NASA to be repaired, after spending nearly five years in orbit doing nothing but occupy space.

Robonaut was sent to the ISS in 2011 aboard space shuttle Discovery. When it arrived, it came in the form of a machine only comprised of a torso, a head, and arms. It was intended as a tool to conduct various robotics technology research in space.

It did so for about two years until NASA decided to fit some legs onto it. Robonaut got its legs but also got some serious updates, including new components in the computer chassis.

The increased electrical load gave the robot a severe case of malfunction, experiencing sensor and communication failures, as well as repeated processor lockups. All these issues made the robot inoperable for nearly five years.

After splashing down off the coast of California, the robot has been shipped to the Johnson Space Center, the place where it was born, to be properly repaired. NASA did not officially announce a timeline for the repairs, nor any plans to send the robot back up to the ISS, but hinted at both.

"R2 will undergo repairs, checkouts and small upgrades that have been applied to the other Robonauts during R2's leave of absence from Earth,” Julia Badger, Robonaut's project manager was quoted as saying by Collect Space.

“We hope to turnaround the robot quickly since it still has a lot of important work [to do]pushing technology advances on board the International Space Station." 
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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