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Astronaut Sunita Williams Drives a Robot in Germany from the International Space Station

by Betsey Lippmeier

NASA and the European Space Agency have successfully used an experimental version of  deep space internet to control a Lego robot from the International Space Station.  In late October,  space station Expedition 33 commander, Sunita Williams used a NASA developed laptop to remotely drive a small LEGO robot at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The experiment used NASA’s Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to transmit messages and demonstrate technology that one day may enable Internet-like communications from space vehicles to other planets.

 “The demonstration showed the feasibility of using a new communications infrastructure to send commands to a surface robot from an orbiting spacecraft and receive images and data back from the robot,” said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The experimental DTN we’ve tested from the space station may one day be used by humans on a spacecraft in orbit around Mars to operate robots on the surface, or from Earth using orbiting satellites as relay stations.”

Ms. Williams is from Needham, Massachusetts.

Here is a picture of the robot:

One can only image the business opportunities!

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