NASA to launch "robot hotel" to Int'l Space Station

Scientists will study how barley responds to microgravity with an experiment on board the International Space Station

RiTS will provide protection from heat and physical protection from radiation and objects that are hurling through space.

Two robotic leak detectors will be stored in the toolbox, for example. The first RELL unit was launched in 2015 while the second was launched in 2019 as a back-up.

"Its thermal system maintains ideal temperatures for the instruments, helping them stay functional". Launches to the space station have instantaneous launch windows to catch the station in orbit.

Living conditions for both astronauts and robots are set to improve soon once NASA's "Robotic Tool Stowage" unit (RiTS) makes its way to the ISS.

Deploying detection robots usually takes much longer when the tool is not externally stored.

Once the Dragon is captured, mission control in Houston will send commands to the station's giant arm to rotate and place it on the bottom of the space station's Harmony port.

Once outside the station, RELL now needs to wait 12 hours in space before it can be used.

You can think of this "hotel" more appropriately as a "garage", as the space will, in fact, be more similar to a parking spot for robots.

NASA astronauts have been riding Russian rockets to the space station, for tens of millions of dollars per seat, while awaiting the repeatedly delayed commercial crew vehicles.

However, over its lifetime, the space station has accumulated occasional small ammonia leaks at its joints, often as a result of micrometeroids.

Human and robotic collaborations like these can be applied to more than just the space station, including potential exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19.

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