NASA's Astrobee Robot Will Soon Buzz Around the International Space Station

NASA's Astrobee - a robotic cube filled with sensors, cameras, computers, and a propulsion system - is designed to fly freely on board the International Space Station, helping astronauts with a variety of tasks. NASA expects to have Astrobee on orbit at some point between July 2017 and June 2018, and will be sending three of them to the ISS. For testing on the ground, Astrobee is mounted on top of a sled that uses carbon dioxide to create an air bearing above a flat block of granite. This allows engineers to simulate microgravity in two dimensions to test the robot's propulsion and navigation systems.