Wake up to sunrise SpaceX launch

Gwen Vasquez
July 1, 2018

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in August and return to Earth with more than 1,724 kgs of research, hardware and crew supplies, NASA said.

This medicine ball-shaped, weighing at around 11-pound, Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON) is the first AI-powered device that is being sent to space. Measuring 32cm across and tipping the scales at 5kg, it's essentially astronauts' flight attendant and assistance system. "It is meant to show to what extent the astronauts' work can be supported in the European Columbus module on the ISS and relieve them, in particular, of routine tasks", said Christian Karrasch, CIMON Project Manager at the DLR Space Administration.

Partners in the project include Airbus, The German Aerospace Center (DLR), IBM and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt Munich (LMU). This is the shortest change time required for the Falcon 9 rocket so far.

The group project developed and integrated artificial intelligence (AI) components into CIMON and have been training it to demonstrate a personality.

"The Flying Brain" is a ball shaped artificial intelligence robot because it has been trained to follow and communicate with the German astronauts, who will be on the Space Cargo ship on Friday.

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CIMON is among 2,600 kg of cargo that was launched to the International Space Station on Friday, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is tuned to recognize ISS commander Gerst's face and his voice.

"Right now, our main mission is to support the astronauts with their daily tasks to save time, because time is the most valuable and most expensive thing on the ISS", Mr. Biniok said.

On Friday, the spacecraft was carrying 5,900 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies to support hundreds of investigations now happening aboard the International Space Station's laboratory. It's slated to reach the station on Monday, July 2.

"Dragon confirmed in good orbit", SpaceX tweeted about eight minutes after the launch, following completion of the second-stage engine burn.

Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, U.S. astronauts onboard the ISS, will use the Canadarm2 to grab the Dragon spacecraft.

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