On Friday, SpaceX launched a Cargo capsule packed with Robot assistance to the international space stations (ISS) for NASA, sent 6,000 pounds of supplies on its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket is expected to reach on Monday at the space station and contains Food, water and other supplies for the six astronauts living on the ISS. It is also slated to deliver equipment, some experiments to be tested out in Microgravity with an AI interactive robot there.
The new AI robot is called Crew Interactive Mobile Companion or CIMON, it is of orb shape which looks more like a volleyball with a computer screen on one side, and weighs only 11 pounds. CIMON uses a cartoon face to interact with astronauts out there, uses camera and microphone for recording and to operate around. It has 14 internal fans which collectively help the little bot in movement, CIMON is a kind of a free flyer.
CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system,” said Manfred Jaumann, Head of Microgravity Payloads from Airbus, said in a press release.
CIMON is developed by Airbus for Germany’s national space agency, the purpose is to evaluate whether AI robots can assist astronauts at the space station. They had tested CIMON on a parabolic flight in which the airplane flies at a special trajectory, apart from that, it also trained a few times with a German astronaut Alexander Gerst on earth. Moreover, the robot’s operating system and its AI capabilities are powered by IBM which helps it to interact and calls astronauts name.
“We are the first company in Europe to carry a free flyer, a kind of flying brain, to the ISS and to develop artificial intelligence for the crew on board the space station,” said Jaumann.
CIMON has a standalone version of Watson AI incorporated in its memory storage which means that it an interpret and analyze data, solve problems, responds to instructions, proves useful without any internet connection.
“Experiments sometimes consist of more than 100 different steps,” Matthias Biniok, the lead Watson architect in Germany, wrote in an IBM post.
Additionally, SpaceX is also sending up an instrument that will be attached to the external side of ISS to determine the temperature fluctuations of planet earth. These measures can also help scientists to understand earth’s water cycle, ecosystem to examine climate changing factors. For latching mechanism, SpaceX is carrying an extra robotic arm to attach it to Canada’s robot located at the outside of ISS. For over 17 years the robot is present at the station but last year 2017 Canadian space agency has noticed a deterioration of the mechanism plus a latch failed to respond over time.
For this mission, SpaceX is using a Falcon 9 and a Dragon cargo capsule to send all the supplies to ISS. It is the third time the company had flown both overhauled Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 for NASA. Previously in July 2016, Dragon capsule flew to the space station whereas Falcon 9 flew this April when NASA launched a new planet haunting satellite named TESS.
Jessican Jensen, director of dragon and mission management at SpaceX, said at a press conference before the mission, “Our teams have gotten extremely efficient at the refurbishment process.”
This mission will be the last mission of SpaceX Falcon 9 block 4, later, all future mission carried out on Falcon 9 block 5, the final upgrade of Rocket which makes landing easier. SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch on Friday in Florida Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.