Amazing Kids! Magazine

Robonaut 2 – The First Humanoid Robot in Space!

By Celine Tien, Nonfiction Editor

When you think of spaceships, doesn’t it remind you of astronauts? Human astronauts? Well since February 24th of this year, Robonaut 2 has redefined space travel by existing as the first humanoid robot in space. But who is Robonaut exactly?

Created at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Robonaut (R2) is built of a head, torso, two arms, and two hands, and loosely resembles that of a burly, gold-headed human (with no legs of course). Being a humanoid robot, R2 is capable of maintaining himself (for example recharging himself), learn from his surroundings, and interact with human beings and his environment. R2 is the second generation of the Robonaut design series that was developed in hopes of creating robots who can assist alongside astronauts during space missions. R2 specifically has gained much more flexibility than his earlier model, and can move, and carry up to 50 lbs. with two hands!

Robonaut 2’s developers hope for this robot to represent the promise of future robots’ roles in both space and Earth. “The combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect example of the sum equaling more than the parts. It will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today,” says John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office at NASA headquarters in Washington.

Today, R2 is experiencing the climate in space, and is under observation for his performance in adjusting to microgravity, radiation, and electromagnetic interference environments. The data R2 is providing will allow researchers to determine how a robot like R2 can perform alongside a human partner.

Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), an international research facility that is currently orbiting the Earth, Robonaut 2 is fulfilling the objective of harmonizing the collaboration between humans and robots.