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NASA and SpaceX's CRS-15 Cargo Mission to the ISS

Rejected submission by takyon at 2018-06-29 07:43:51
Techonomics

SpaceX will fly the Falcon 9 Block 4 for the last time [arstechnica.com] on its June 29, 2018 launch of cargo to the ISS:

Because SpaceX has no plans to fly Friday's booster again, it will be expended into the ocean. However, the rocket's second stage will make a much longer "coast" in space before de-orbiting after four revolutions around Earth. This is likely another test of the second-stage engine's ability to fire after a longer period of dormancy in space.

CRS-15 will deliver 2,697 kg of cargo [spaceflightnow.com], including ECOSTRESS [soylentnews.org] and other equipment and experiments:

The equipment launching to the space station inside the Dragon's trunk includes a spare Canadian-built latching end effector for the research lab's robotic arm, plus a 1,213-pound (550-kilogram) instrument developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to be mounted outside the station's Japanese Kibo lab module to measure the temperature of plants from space.

The cargo will include CIMON [soylentnews.org], a "robot crew member" [theverge.com]:

The robot's name is CIMON [www.dlr.de] — for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion — and it looks a bit like a volleyball with a computer screen on one side. The screen displays a simplified cartoon face that the bot will use to interact with the humans on the ISS. And to maneuver around, CIMON is equipped with 14 internal fans that propel the white ball, by sucking in the station's air and expelling it to move in whatever direction it needs. That means CIMON can "float" throughout the station, zooming up to astronauts that call its name and nodding in response to questions.

Airbus developed CIMON for Germany's national space agency, and the goal is to see whether intelligent bots can cooperate with astronauts to simplify work life in space. CIMON's already been tested out on a parabolic flight — an airplane that flies a special trajectory to create brief moments of weightlessness. And CIMON has trained a few times on Earth with German astronaut Alexander Gerst, who is already on board the ISS. So the bot's microphones and cameras are specially tuned to recognize his voice and face. However, CIMON's makers say the bot's voice-controlled AI capabilities, provided by IBM, allow the companion to interact with any astronaut that calls its name.


Original Submission