NASA astronauts boost robotics on space station
Spacewalkers give Canadarm II new footing and will leave shuttle arm at station
Computerworld - NASA astronauts prepared today for their fourth and final spacewalk during the space shuttle Endeavour's last mission to the International Space Station.
Much of the astronauts' focus today and Friday is on increasing the robotics capability of the orbiting space station before they head for home.
The Endeavour and its six-man crew is 10 days into its 16-day mission to bring supplies, equipment and experiments to the space station. With three spacewalks behind them, the shuttle astronauts are gearing up for what will not only be the mission's last spacewalk, but also the last spacewalk for any shuttle astronauts.
While space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make the shuttle fleet's final launch next month, the crew will not make any spacewalks. Instead, space station crew members will make the rest of the spacewalks, according to NASA.
Earlier today, members of the space shuttle crew used the robotic arm onboard the shuttle to perform one last inspection of the vehicle's heat shield and wings. This inspection usually is done after the shuttle undocks from the space station. However, since this is Endeavour's final trip aloft, spacewalkers Friday morning will take the shuttle's robotic arm off the spacecraft and attach it to the space station, giving it one more piece of robotics to use.
The procedure isn't the only robotic work being performed on this shuttle mission.
Endeavour also delivered a spare robotic hand and arm for the humanoid robot that was recently moved onto the space station.
On Wednesday's spacewalk, astronauts worked on Canadarm II, the main robotic arm on the space station.
During a 6-hour, 54-minute spacewalk early Wednesday, astronauts Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke installed a power and data grapple fixture on the Russian Zarya module. The fixture will act as a base or foot for Canadarm II. The robotic arm will be able to move much like an inchworm across the backbone of the space station. The arm will be able to reach out and grasp onto the new base, and then that base will become the arm's anchor so the other end can release its old base and become the arm's hand.
Moving the fixture onto this new base on the Russian module will greatly extend Canadarm II's reach.
Wednesday's spacewalk brought the total time spent for station assembly construction and maintenance to 995 hours and 13 minutes during 158 spacewalks, according to NASA. Friday's spacewalk is expected to cross the 1,000-hour mark.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Shifting Gears: The Value of Customer-Driven Quality in Manufacturing In today's competitive manufacturing market, the customer must be the center of the quality universe. This paper details how manufacturers can improve customer...
- Aberdeen Group: Marketing Analytics for Manufacturing: Forging Customer Insights There are no recalls for poor marketing. Manufacturers need to get their customer intelligence and messaging right the first time. Learn how.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts