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Home / Science / SpaceX launches AI-enabled robot companion, vegetation monitor to space station – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches AI-enabled robot companion, vegetation monitor to space station – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches at 5:42 am EDT (0942 GMT) on Friday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX

A commercial SpaceX Dragon Cargo capsule with a robot assistant for the crew of the International Space Station, extra-strong coffee, and a NASA scientific tool to track the health of plants on Earth has Cape Canaveral Boarding a Falcon

The Falcon 9 launcher rode on a cloud of orange rocket exhaust and climbed into a clear blue sky before sunrise at 5 o'clock after launching Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad. 42:42 EDT (0942: 42 GMT), approximately at the moment Earth's orbit carried the spaceport beneath the orbital railway of the International Space Station.

The first stage of the Falcon 9, which was launched for the second time after a NASA science satellite had been orbited in April, swung its engines to the rocket of Cape Canaveral with 1.7 million pounds of thrust to the northeast to control.

The rocket dropped the first stage booster to fall into the Atlantic Ocean – it was not planned to find it again – as the second stage of the Falcon 9 ignited for five and a half minutes to give the Dragon cargo ship enough speed to to reach an orbit around the earth.

The launcher rose into sunlight reaching the thinned upper atmosphere, creating a twilight effect as the expansive exhaust cloud of the Falcon 9 caught the first rays of the morning sun.

The images of the Falcon 9's ascent into space showed the illuminated plume of smoke that appeared like a growing fog Another memorable light show for viewers across Florida.

The second stage of the rocket was shut down about eight and a half minutes after the flight and deployed about 90 seconds later with the Dragon Supply Ship. Two energy-generating solar collectors unfolded over a span of about 16.5 meters, and the rockets were prepared for the three-day hunt for the space station.

Meanwhile, the second stage was programmed to continue circling Earth for a long coastline demonstration, gathering data to test the rocket can operate in space for up to six hours, making future Falcon 9 missile payloads payloads higher, heavier send orbits to be reached.

Friday's launch marked the 57th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket and the 12th start of the year by SpaceX. It was the 14th time that SpaceX released a reused first stage booster and the fourth flight of a previously used Dragon capsule.

The first phase started on Friday was created by SpaceX with the company's "Block 4" configuration. SpaceX debuted the improved "Block 5" version of the Falcon 9 rocket on May 11, and on Friday flight a second stage with Block 5 improvements was used.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 design was optimized for first stage reusability and SpaceX founders, and CEO Elon Musk said the improved Block 5 boosters could be launched, landed and flown in less than 24 hours, and eventually little more than the costs of new blowing agents and processing costs needed.

The Block 4 configuration has been unable to provide such fast follow-ups requiring disassembly of its support legs, inspections, refurbishment and installation of new heat shield material and grid ribs used in descent. The work took time and cost millions of dollars, but SpaceX officials said the cost of refurbishing block 4 boosters was less than the cost of making a brand new vehicle.

On Friday, the first block 4 construction phase was started. said Jessica Jensen, SpaceX Director of Dragon Mission Management

SpaceX & # 15; Space Station Freight Mission, which is part of a US $ 3 billion commercial replacement deal with NASA, is scheduled to board on Monday at 7:00 am EDT (1100 GMT)

Commando of the Canadian-built robotic arm to the to fight free-floating dragon capsule. The robotic arm launches the spacecraft a few hours later on the station's Harmony module and begins a one-month stay.

Astronauts will manually unpack the contents of the Dragon Print Freight Module re-using SpaceX from a previous replenishment mission Launched in July 2016.

The mission is to deliver 5,946 pounds (2,697 kilograms) of equipment, experiments and provisions to the orbiting research lab. Approximately 3,774 pounds (1,712 kilograms) of this counter are transported in Dragon's inner cabin, including:

  • 2,718 pounds (1,233 kilograms) of scientific investigations
  • 452 pounds (205 kilograms) of crew material
  • 392 pounds (178 kilograms )
  • 139 pounds (63 kilograms) of space equipment
  • 46 pounds (21 kilograms) of computer resources
  • 27 pounds (12 kilograms) of Russian hardware

The cargo loaded into Dragon includes mice carrying be studied by scientists on their return to Earth. Researchers will study the effects of microgravity on microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract of animals.

Aboard the Dragon Cargo Pod, there is also an experiment that allows scientists to study how algae grow in space. Algae could provide basic food and absorb carbon dioxide in future space missions, and algae oils could reduce the negative effects of cosmic rays on humans.

The astronaut of the European Space Agency Alexander Gerst, which was launched earlier this month, begins half a year on the space station, he also receives a speaking assistant who is activated by artificial intelligence.

Known as CIMON – short for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion – the robot will help Gerst complete tasks, perform experiments, and repair and upgrade components in the space station

"CIMON is a free-floating artificial intelligence, and when This is a historic moment, "said Christian Karrasch, CIMON's project manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). "We are very happy that CIMON will be the first artificial intelligence in space.

" For us, this is a piece of the future for manned space travel. If you go to the moon or to Mars, you can not take all the people and engineers with you, but with artificial intelligence you immediately have all the knowledge of humanity, "said Karrasch.

Developed in English: www.dlr.de /en/desktopdefault.aspx/t…_read-10921/ CIMON, a partnership between DLR, Airbus Defense and The entire structure of CIMON, mainly metal and plastic, was printed in 3D, according to Airbus.

Robots like CIMON could help space travelers to make their work more efficient, to improve safety, to minimize the burden on the crew and to better understand the public According to the project managers

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CIMON's" neural "AI Network and its ability to learn, along with human-like characteristics such as a face and a voice, make it a companion rather than just an experiment According to officials, Gerst and other ward crew members were notified

The AI-capable helper was paired with Gerst, a German-born astronaut, using voice samples prior to his flight, meaning that CIMON will communicate best with him, but officials said everyone could work with the robot.

"If Alexander Gerst did Having questions about the experiment he is working on, CIMON has quite a bit of knowledge about this experiment inside the experiment, and he can ask questions that go beyond the procedure, "said Philipp S chulien, engineer at CIMON of Airbus.

CIMON learns with the help of IBM Watson AI technology.

"During the Times Connectivity brings all communication back through the cloud through connectivity," said Bret Greenstein, IBM's global vice president at Watson and the Internet of Things. "So all of the AI ​​work is done in the cloud, the real language, all the training and tailoring that we do happens in the cloud, which means we can improve it from Earth at any time and make it smarter can help to help Alexander and the team to use it. "

Kirk Shireman, Space Station's NASA Program Manager, said that astronaut forces penetrating deeper into the solar system are becoming more autonomous due to the communication delays inherent in such journeys

"You If you can think of all human knowledge, you may need to access parts of it," Shireman said. "So it's very important to have AI, and that knowledge base and the ability to tap into it in ways that are useful to the task you are doing is critical to getting people further and further away from the planet."

According to David Brady, Assistant Program Scientist of the International Space Station at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the cargo mission will allow 27 scientific experiments on the space station.

Fresh food, including cancer, lobster and maple smoked salmon, strong coffee bags from Death Wish Coffee, an iPad Air and spacesuit gloves are also among the items in the Dragon spacecraft.

The spacecraft Dragon by SpaceX carries a spare catch end effector (above) and NASA's ECOSTRESS instrument the space station in the trunk of the vehicle. Credit: SpaceX

The equipment deployed inside the Dragon's Stewardship included a Canadian-built self-retaining end effector for the robot arm of the research lab and a 1,213-pound instrument (550 kilograms) developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. be mounted outside the station's Japanese kibo laboratory module to measure the temperature of plants from outer space.

The spare snap-in end effector or hand for the robotic arm is stored outside the space station, ready to replace one of the arms two end-effecters using space walk astronauts, if necessary

Astronauts replaced both hands of the robotic arm at the end of last year and the beginning of the year on a series of spacewalks. Both stop-end effectors showed signs of aging and wear after nearly 17 years on the space station, and the replacement workers left the station without a replacement arm, also known as Canadarm 2.

"It's a critical issue," said Ken Podwalski, Head of Space Station of the Canadian Space Agency. "We always want to be able to protect ourselves from a failure."

The robot arm is indispensable for the space station to receive cargo shipments from SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft, Northrop Grumman's Cygnus Cargo Carrier and Japan's HTV Supply Ship. It is also used to move astronauts around the space station on space walks, and to transfer experiments and other equipment around the exterior of the nearly million-pound science export post.

Canadarm 2 is Canada's main contribution to the space station. It uses the locking end-effectors to inch in between multiple host adapters outside of the space station module and on the inchworm truss bridge, and the hands of the arm are able to carry data, video, and electrical power.

"Overall, I'd Dare We Got Exceptional Performance From Our Space Robot Just Because We've Got 17 Years In The Game For A System That Wants To Be A 10-Year Operating Life – And 15 Years In Orbit – With Few Problems "We had," said Podwalski.

"I think our biggest problems really were the cameras. We have changed a number of cameras. We have new cameras in the works, and they are really nice because we can really change them robotically, "he said," in which case we use our own robots to repair our own robots. That's the ideal scenario. "

The Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Ecosystem Experiment on the Space Station or ECOSTRESS will measure the heat energy coming from the Earth's surface.The temperature measurements are given to the scientists about the health of the plants, the water consumption and the plant's resistance to extreme conditions such as heat waves and Report Drought

"When a plant is so stressed it turns brown, it's often too late to recover," said Simon Hook, ECOSTRESS Principal Investigator at JPL, "but considering the temperature of the plant measures, you can see that a plant is stressed before it reaches this point. "

The ECOSTRESS instrument was developed with a cost cap of $ 30 million and is a pioneer for future missions

" With ECOSTRESS We monitor rapid changes in the field stress at the field level and so earlier and more accurate estimates of the Impact on yields, "said Martha Anderson, member of the ECOSTRESS science team at the US Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. "Even short-term moisture stress, if it occurs during a critical growth stage, can significantly affect productivity."

The thermal sensitivity of ECOSTRESS will also help identify and investigate hotspots such as forest fires and volcanoes.

The Dragon spacecraft will leave the space station on August 2, returning with nearly two tons of equipment, cargo, and research items for analysis by engineers and scientists in the Pacific.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .

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