On January 30, Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft departed Earth toward the International Space Station (ISS) with about 3,700 kilograms of payload on board. The dispatched equipment and missions arrived at the pad the next day, February 1, and among them was a robotic surgeon, who was soon scheduled to begin his practice in orbit.
- The robot weighs about 0.9 kilograms and has two controllable arms, each of which holds forceps and scissors.
- Developed by Virtual Incision, the equipment is designed to communicate with doctors on Earth while performing high-precision surgeries in space;
- As space exploration advances, scientists aim to ensure that medical treatment for astronauts in space progresses in the same way as the rockets that will take them there.
However, in addition to benefiting astronauts in space, a robotic surgeon could also help people living on Earth. In this way, a specialist surgeon can use the equipment to work in different locations using telesurgery, or remote surgeries, which is crucial for hospitals far from large urban centers and in military areas. That's why, in addition to NASA, the robot is also funded by the military.
Other equipment and missions were sent to the International Space Station
In addition to the robotic surgeon, Cygnus also took other missions and equipment to the space laboratory for testing. Some of them had previously undergone tests on Earth, or even on the International Space Station itself, but now they have been sent to undergo other environmental conditions or methods, such as:
- A robotic arm from NanoRacks, which will now undergo tests in completely hypo-stress environments to test its ability to help astronauts operate in harsh environments;
- A European Space Agency 3D printer can create small metal parts, to compare the behavior of a metal structure printed in space compared to those printed on Earth;
- Hey Maple-AWhich will analyze the role of mesenchymal cells in studying the effects of microgravity on bone loss in astronauts.
- An artificial retina from LambdaVision, sent to the International Space Station, where the “layer-by-layer electrostatic deposition” process of the protein it relies on appears to work better in microgravity;
- Finally, the spacecraft also carried a space computer with an artificial intelligence model developed by NASA and Microsoft to perform analyzes on the station in just minutes, but with the images captured and sent back to Earth, it could take days to be ready.
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