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NASA Robonaut R2 Tweets From Outer Space

Robonaut, sent to International Space Station on Shuttle Discovery's last mission in February, powered up this week--and began talking in 140 characters or less.

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NASA's first Robonaut in space is using Twitter to share its experience with the public.

"Look at me, I'm in space!" tweeted Robonaut 2 (R2) (@AstroRobonaut) on Wednesday from its mission on the International Space Station (ISS).

The humanoid robot--created as a collaboration between NASA and General Motors--arrived at the ISS in February as part of the cargo of Space Shuttle Discovery. R2 was dormant on the ISS for about six months before astronauts aboard the station powered it up earlier this week.

R2 tweeted about its experience "waking up" on the ISS and is now actively sharing other comments about its life on the ISS on Twitter.

It's also answering questions from followers that provide information about how the robot operates and the tasks it will be performing while on board the space station.

From its tweets, people can learn that the robot is not manning the computer on his own ("The team that created me helps me tweet"); that it has no legs at the moment but that eventually will be getting some ("I will be getting some legs to help me move around in zero-g"); and that the robot has some autonomy ("I require ground control, but I can also respond to my environment within controlled specifications.").

R2's tweets also reveal that astronauts will begin testing the 3-foot, 4-inch, 330-pound robot's movements on Sept. 1, and that the robot is operating from the ISS's Destiny module.

NASA and GM spent $2.5 million building R2, currently the most advanced of the four robots in NASA's Robonaut program.

Once R2 is more fully functional on the ISS, the robot will perform mundane tasks for astronauts such as setting up their work sites so they can focus on other things. An experimental machine, the robot's mission is to mainly show NASA how highly dexterous anthropomorphic robots--the agency's term for the type of machine R2 is--perform in space.

Eventually, NASA hopes future versions of Robonauts will perform more advanced tasks, such as spacewalks and repairs to the space station. At this time the agency has no plans to remove R2 from the ISS.

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