NASA launching 'Robot Hotel' to the International Space Station

Scientists will study how barley responds to microgravity with an experiment on board the International Space Station

Scientists will study how barley responds to microgravity with an experiment on board the International Space Station

The first guests at the hotel will be two robots called Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL - because acronyms).

NASA is going to be sending something it calls a "robot hotel" to the International Space Station aboard the next commercial resupply mission, which is set to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket this week.

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The hotel, RiTS will be attached to the outside of the ISS to create and save storage on the inside. The spacecraft - which has made two previous visits to the space station - is expected to arrive at the ISS on Saturday and remain there until January 4. It depends on the availability of mission controllers on the ground and station crew.

Along with a thermal system to maintain ideal temperature, Mark Neuman, RiTS hardware manager explained, "For each of its stored tools, RiTS will provide heat and physical protection from radiation and micrometeoroids, or tiny, high-speed objects hurtling through space".

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SpaceX has delayed its delivery to the International Space Station because of risky wind gusts. It also needs to be bought outside the space station using the Dextre robotic arm- used to perform maintenance operations. The leak detectors have mass spectrometers that can find leaks from the space station, NASA officials said.

Human and robotic collaborations like these can be applied to more than just the space station, including potential exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

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The robot hotel is more formally known as the "Robotic Tool Stowage" unit, or the RiTS for short, because NASA loves nothing quite so much as it loves acronyms.

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