Home Technology Astronauts build giant robot to do their jobs

Astronauts build giant robot to do their jobs

By Xinhua

Beijing : After linking up with the international space station Thursday, astronauts on board the space shuttle Endeavour got to work unloading the parts they will need to build a giant robot that will help maintain the orbiting outpost.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Gregory Johnson were using the station’s robotic arm to pull a pallet containing the Canadian robot, named Dextre, from Endeavour’s cargo bay and install it temporarily on a station girder.

Dextre is designed to assist spacewalking astronauts and, ultimately, take over some of the dangerous outdoor work.

Spacewalkers Richard Linnehan and Garrett Reisman began assembling the robot late last night during the first of five outings planned for Endeavour’s 16-day mission.

Before pulling up to the space station, Endeavour’s commander, Dominic Gorie, guided the shuttle through a 360-degree backflip to allow for full photographic surveillance.

It is one of the many safety-related procedures put in place following the Columbia tragedy in 2003.

The space station crew used cameras with high-powered zoom lenses to photograph Endeavour from nose to tail.

The crew had already used a 30-meter laser-tipped boom to inspect Endeavour’s wings and nose, and flight director Mike Moses said engineers haven’t spotted any problems.

It will take several days for NASA to analyze all the data and determine whether Endeavour will be able to re-enter safely at the end of its 16-day flight, the longest space station mission by a shuttle.

The shuttle’s seven astronauts exchanged hugs and handshakes with space station commander Peggy Whitson and her two-man crew after the hatches between the ships were opened.

Endeavour also delivered the first piece of Japan’s new space station lab, Kibo, which is Japanese for “hope.”