- Our Planet
Robonaut 2, the latest generation of the Robonaut astronaut helpers, launched to the space station aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission. Robonaut 2 is the first humanoid robot in space. Although its primary job for now is teaching engineers how dexterous robots behave in space, the hope is that through upgrades and advancements Robonaut 2 could venture outside the station one day to help spacewalkers make repairs or additions to the station or perform scientific work. R2, as the robot is called, launched inside the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module, which was packed with supplies and equipment for the station and then installed permanently on the Unity node. Once R2 is unpacked -- probably several months after it arrives -- it will be operated initially inside the Destiny laboratory for operational testing. But over time, both its territory and its applications could expand. There are no plans to return R2 to Earth. Image: NASA