The next step for space exploration is to try to establish bases on the Moon and Mars. But it seems difficult for astronauts to do this work, due to the difficulties for human beings in these inhospitable environments. Will be the moment of the prominence of the robot in space travel?
This Sunday, the Japan Space Agency (JAXA), on a SpaceX rocket, he launched an orange-sized sphere that will transform into a wheeled robot on the Moon. He did it on a Japanese company ship ispace, which also carried the first lunar rover from the United Arab Emirates.
According to The New York Times, the Japanese robot will not only be able to roll, but also fly, as well as identify geological features using Artificial Intelligence and 360-degree cameras.
The Hakuto (white rabbit, in Japanese) mission is expected to reach the Moon at the end of April 2023: it will be a slow trip, seeking to save fuel. It will land in the Atlas crater, in the northeastern section of the near side of our natural satellite.
If the plan is successful, it will become the first shipment brought to the lunar surface by a private company.
The robot replacing the astronaut, or paving the way for human exploration
With space missions getting further and further away, many consider that the robot will replace the astronaut in the medium or long term.
It is not the first time that robots are fixed elements in space missions: the big difference in the future is that they will be so sophisticated that they will not require the presence of a human nearby.
As he emphasizes ScreenRant, “Robots don’t need to breathe, eat, drink, or even return to Earth, so sending them on dangerous or distant missions is generally less expensive.”
Rovers like NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity fall under the definition of robots, meeting basic missions such as collect data or collect material. While part of the work of the International Space Station is handled by robotic arms.
Let’s imagine for a moment that the construction of the NASA base on the Moon is done by robots. Or that they travel to Mars to begin preparing the necessary environment for the adaptation of human beings. It’s not unreasonable.
An October article published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI points out that an innovative design of E-Walker, an end-to-end robot walking system, can assemble complicated space technologies, including huge orbiting telescopes.
Will this be the next step for NASA and SpaceX?