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SpaceX Dragon Delivers To International Space Station After Delay

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20.

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SpaceX Dragon
ISRO has also tied up with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide technical support for establishing an integrated control room for emergency management, Sivan stated. VOA

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship finally delivered more than 2,500 kilograms of holiday treats Saturday to the International Space Station after a communications drop-out delayed the shipment.

After two approach attempts, the Dragon locked onto the orbiting lab three days after launching from Cape Canaveral in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.

NASA nixed the first approach because of a glitch in the communication network that serves the space station.

SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station.
SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station. VOA
 Mission Control ordered the Dragon to back up from the station before approaching again after NASA switched another communications satellite.

With the Dragon positioned about nine meters from the station, Commander Alexander Gerst locked the lab’s robot arm onto the cargo ship one-and-a-half hours later than planned.

In addition to holiday offerings — including smoked turkey, green bean casserole and fruit cake — mice and worms also were delivered for science experiments.

Three astronauts will be on board the station on Christmas, while three others will return to Earth on December 20. Until then, the station will be home to six astronauts: Gerst, who is German, two Americans, two Russians and one Canadian. (VOA)

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Robot Equipped with Emotion-Sensing Heads to International Space Station

Emotion-sensing Robot Heads to Space Station to Help Astronauts

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Robot
Bret Greenstein, IBM Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things Offerings, holds a clone of an artificial intelligence bot named CIMON, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

An intelligent robot equipped with emotion-sensing voice detectors was headed to the International Space Station after launching from Florida on Thursday, becoming the latest artificial intelligence-powered astronaut workmate in orbit.

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion 2, or CIMON 2, is a spherical droid with microphones, cameras and a slew of software to enable emotion recognition.

The droid was among 5,700 pounds (2,585 kg) of supplies and experiments aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, whose midday launch had been delayed from Wednesday because of high winds.

Create a companion

“The overall goal is to really create a true companion. The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important,” Matthias Biniok, the lead architect for CIMON 2, told Reuters. “It’s trying to understand if the astronaut is sad, is he angry, joyful and so on.”

Based on algorithms built by information technology giant IBM Corp and data from CIMON 1, a nearly identical prototype that launched in 2018, CIMON 2 will be more sociable with crew members. It will test technologies that could prove crucial for future crewed missions in deep space, where long-term isolation and communication lags to Earth pose risks to astronauts’ mental health.

Robot companion
The overall goal of creating this robot is to create a true companion. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

While designed to help astronauts conduct scientific experiments, the English-speaking robot is also being trained to help mitigate groupthink — a behavioral phenomenon in which isolated groups of humans can be driven to make irrational decisions.

“Group-thinking is really dangerous,” Biniok said. In times of conflict or disagreement among astronauts, one of CIMON’s most important purposes would be to serve as “an objective outsider that you can talk to if you’re alone, or could actually help let the group collaborate again,” he said.

Inspired by Professor Simon, HAL

Engineers have said CIMON’s concept was inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space, where a sentient, brain-shaped robot named Professor Simon mentors an astronaut named Captain Future. CIMON 2 also parallels HAL, the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” film.

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SpaceX is the first private company to fly to the space station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations. Along with CIMON 2, the cargo aboard its 19th resupply mission to the orbital research lab included 40 live mice that will show scientists how muscles change in the microgravity of space. (VOA)