|Astronauts at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut in a light-hearted ceremony broadcast by NASA. (Lauren Harnett/ NASA via AP)|
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first humanoid robot ever launched into space is finally free. Astronauts at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut on Tuesday, about two weeks after its arrival via shuttle Discovery. NASA broadcast the light-hearted unveiling ceremony yesterday.
American Catherine Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli pried off the lid of the robot’s packing box, as though they were opening a coffin. TV cameras showed lots of foam inside, but no robot.
“It’s like unearthing a mummy,’’ radioed a payload controller at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
“Well, at least the mummy would be here,’’ Coleman replied. “We just have an empty box where Robonaut is supposed to be.’’
Robonaut — also known as R2 — was spotted a minute later.
Also yesterday, astronaut Scott Kelly and two Russian cosmonauts landed safely in the snowy expanses of central Kazakhstan after spending five months on the station. Kelly returns as his twin brother, Mark, husband of wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, prepares to be the commander of space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission in April. Scott Kelly was shown in a NASA photo wearing a blue wristband with a peace sign, a heart and the name “Gabby.’’