Space robot has power, soon may have arms

An artist’s illustration of the complete Canadian space robot Dextre, which has space walk duties in its future.

Canadian Space Agency

An artist’s illustration of the complete Canadian space robot Dextre, which has space walk duties in its future.

CAPE CANAVERAL — Astronauts got power flowing to the international space station's new robot Friday night, overcoming a problem that had threatened to disrupt shuttle Endeavour's construction mission.

Working from inside, the astronauts used the space station's mechanical arm to grab onto the robot named Dextre and energize the sleeping giant, which had been lying dormant outside the orbiting complex for nearly two days. Electricity quickly began streaming to the machine's joints and electronics, to everyone's relief.

"Good news from the flight control room," announced Mission Control. "Dextre has power."

A cable design flaw had prevented power from reaching Dextre, once the robot was hoisted onto the space station Thursday. Engineers on the ground put in the wrong circuitry before Endeavour's flight; that was enough to create a roadblock in power and data to Dextre.

The robot had its hands attached to its arms during a space walk that ended well before dawn Friday. With the night's successful power bypass, NASA kept on track tonight's space walk to hook the robot's 11-foot arms to its torso.

Dextre could not be completely assembled or tested without power to heat its joints and electronics.

The Canadian-built robot — which cost more than $200-million — is intended to be a helper for spacewalking astronauts. It ultimately could take over some spacewalking jobs, saving time for space station crews while reducing their risk.

Five space walks are planned for Endeavour's nearly two-week visit, the longest by a shuttle.

Space robot has power, soon may have arms 03/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:39am]

    

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