NASA will soon launch something that the space agency calls a robot hotel to the International Space Station. This is set to launch aboard the next commercial resupply mission, which will be aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket this week.
The robot hotel is known as the Robotic Tool Stowage
The robot hotel is known as the Robotic Tool Stowage unit, aka RiTS. The ‘hotel’ designation is not too appropriate, according to Tech Crunch, which says that a better name would have been a garage. This is because the unit is mainly a protected parking space for robots when they are not in use.
This will be helping to protect them from all kinds of potential dangers that are presented by hanging out in space. These include exposure to radiation, and also the potential to get hit by micrometeors and more debris.
Two robots will be the first guests at the “hotel”
The online publication mentioned above notes that the very first guests at the hotel/garage are two robots that are called Robotic External Leak Locators – RELL.
NASA defines the robots in the following words: “NASA’s Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair.”
These two find leaks in the ISS exterior hull from the outside, and this is a really important job. In the past, they have been stored inside the ISS when they were not used, but space is really important so it’s essential to save as much space as possible in the ISS.
The online publication also notes that “Plus, the RELLs need to be calibrated when they’re sent out to do their job, a process that requires 12 full hours.”
They continue and say that “Because their new storage environment is already external, it’ll be much easier and quicker for the station’s Dextre robotic arm to retrieve them and set them to work.”