For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. Currently, astronauts read these instructions from a laptop, which Biniok says is an arduous process that a responsive, hands-free companion like CIMON can replace. CIMON doesn't have any arms or legs, so it can't assist with any physical tasks, but it features a language user interface, allowing crew members to verbally communicate with it.
CIMON was initially tested out on a parabolic flight - an airplane that flies a special trajectory to create brief moments of weightlessness, according to a report by The Verge. Already savvy about Gerst's science research, the self-propelling Cimon will float at the astronaut's side and help, when asked, with research procedures. The bot has been trained to understand the voice and face of a German astronaut, Alexander Gerst, who will later decide how the bot does. It will use microphones and cameras to record astronauts, has an expressive digital face, and can even make small talk. What's more, activities and tasks performed by ISS crew members are starting to get more complicated, so an AI could help.
The launch marks SpaceX's fastest repeat flight of a booster rocket: The same Falcon 9 launched the planet-hunting TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) satellite in April.
"Social interaction between people and machines, between astronauts and assistance systems equipped with emotional intelligence, could play an important role in the success of long-term missions", Airbus said.
A SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule blasted off at 5:42 a.m. from Launch Complex 40.
- The latest SpaceX launch occurred before sunrise, and it left behind a dazzling show in the sky.
Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television beginning at 5:30 a.m. Monday, July 2.