After three space walks, Dextre—the robot that will now service the International Space Station—has been completed today, and is now ready for activation. I was watching it live on NASA TV and grabbed these shots (yes, I am that sad) of this fully-assembled gigantastic space spider. To get a sense of how big it is, check the images after the jump.
According to astronaut Richard M. Linnehan, one of the astronauts who readied Dextre in this mission, it's like "working with a Star Wars prop, but it isn't sci-fi, its reality, and it's happening up here right now." Actually, with its 12-foot-tall body and 11-foot-long arms capable of sensing movement and force, the US$209-million Dextre looks more like some kind of Japanese battleoid, but we share the amazement.
Despite its menacing appearance and being capable of withstanding extreme conditions, Dextre is as precise and delicate as it is strong: it can manipulate big, server-rack-sized objects (to a maximum of 1,323 pounds,) as well as laptop-sized ones; all with a positioning accuracy relative to the target of a quarter of an inch (the incremental accuracy is 1/12th of an inch, 2 millimeters) and a force accuracy of 2.2 newtons.
The 3,440-pound (1,560 kg.) robot would be extremely valuable for the activity of the space station, saving time and risky spacewalks to astronauts, who will be able to dedicate themselves to experiments rather than fixing the ISS. [NASA TV and Canadian Space Agency]