Robot Officially On Space Station Payroll

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Dextre, a Canadian-built 12-foot tall robot positioned outside the International Space Station, is officially on the payroll.

Last week, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, nicknamed Dextre, unpacked cargo from a pallet that was delivered aboard a Japanese HTV freighter. The job, which took 15 1/5 hours, was the first working assignment for Dextre, which arrived at the station in March 2008.

WIDE ANGLE: Supplying the Space Station

The robotic handyman has two 11-foot long arms tipped with hand-like grippers that can lift up to about 1,300 pounds and position equipment with an accuracy of about 0.5 inches. It attaches to the station’s 58-foot robotic crane for access around the station.

NASA plans to deliver a second robotic helper to the station later this month. The Robonaut, called R-2, won’t be stepping on Dextre’s turf. The latest drone, built in partnership with General Motors, is a prototype housekeeping ‘bot that will stay inside — at least for the immediate future.

Images: Dextre, on the job, in space. Credit: NASA