Astrobee (Astrobee) - 08.15.18

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
A new buzz comes to the International Space Station (ISS): Astrobee. Three free-flying, cube-shaped robots. The robots are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores, and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Maria Bualat, M.S., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: Astrobee

Facility Manager(s)
Terry Fong, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Maria Bualat, M.S., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2017 - February 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

Information Pending

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Facility Description

Facility Overview

Astrobee consists of three self-contained, free flying robots and a docking station for use inside the ISS. It is an autonomous free flyer powered by fans and operates in the entire U.S. Operating Segment (USOS) using vision-based navigation. The autonomous robots are operated remotely from the ground.
Astrobee facility enables robotic free flyer technology research in microgravity, and is used to test computer vision, robotic manipulation, control algorithms, and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI).
The cameras and sensors perform crew monitoring, sampling activities, logistics management and other routine tasks; thus enabling astronauts to dedicate their efforts to other science and engineering duties. Each free flying robot is capable of accommodating up to three payloads with mechanical attachment, power and data connectivity.

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Facility Operations

  • During commissioning activities, Astrobee requires one crew member for initial installation, basic checkout activities, and for attaching/detaching payloads.
  • Astrobee activities may require high downlink rates (up to 15 Mbps per Free Flyer), depending on what sensor data is being downlinked.
  • The ground team remotely operates Astrobee to map the USOS. This is a slow process of “peeking” beyond its known map boundary, downlinking the data, and slowly extending the map. This activity does not require crew time.
  • The ground team conducts a demonstration using an attached payload.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

Results Publications

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Ground Based Results Publications

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites

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Three Astrobee free flyers are on board the International Space Station to perform video and sensor tasks, and to provide a microgravity research platform for other payloads. Image courtesy of NASA.

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The Astrobee free flyer (clockwise from upper left): front face, right propulsion module and bottom payload bays; left propulsion module, top payload bay, and perching arm deployed; top payload bay with perching arm stowed; aft face including docking interface and perching arm deployed. Image courtesy of NASA.

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Annotated rendering of an Astrobee free flyer showing key sensing and human interface components, including the 6 cameras: Hazard Camera, Science Camera, Navigation Camera, Speed Camera, Perching Camera and Dock Camera. Image courtesy of NASA.

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