Space Station Sunday: Robonaut Gets A Leg Up (Two, Actuallly)

With an imminent return to Earth scheduled for Russian cosmonauts Alexander Svortsov and Oleg Artemyev, there has been a lot of activity on the ISS this week. However, one particular development gave legs (literally) to a whole new set of ideas.

Commander Steve Swanson has been making some serious strides on the ISS's synthetic spaceman Robonaut, reports. The humanoid helper, who happens to be a robot, has long aided the ISS crew with experiments, and now thanks to Swanson's "robot surgery", Robonaut has gained a whole new range of motion. Formerly a head, torso, and two dexterous arms and hands, Robonaut now has a pair of legs to aid him in station science endeavors.

Since the ISS's microgravity keeps its residents relatively aloft, Robonaut's legs did not need to be proportionally as large as his upper body to support his weight. While comparatively small, they are extremely flexible thanks to three different jointed segments. Additionally, instead of feet, Robonaut has a pair of grasper attachments, making him useful in a variety of positions that human astronauts may not be be able to sustain (and also because come on, what badass space robot needs feet when it can have graspers?)

This frees up Robonaut to scoot around the station doing maitenance, like a cooler version of the Jetsons' Rosie the Robot, allowing the human astronauts to do the more complex scientific tasks that we went to space to work on in the first place. However, the badass 'bot will get his chance to act like one of the real boys (and girls) when he takes his first spacewalk later this year.

Watch this space!

He's got legs...and he knows how to use 'em...(and cool grasper-feet too!)

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