Today, on Wednesday 4, December 2020, NASA is going to send what they are calling a ‘’robot hotel’’ up to the International Space Station. This “hotel” will be launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as a part of its commercial resupply mission.
The Robot Hotel is formally known as the “Robotic Tool Stowage” or the RiTS which is slightly less glamorous sounding than “hotel”. You may think this “hotel” more appropriately as a “garage”, as this space will, in fact, is very similar to the parking spots for all the robots.
Whenever not in use, these robots will be placed in the stowage space by protecting them from the potential dangers of Space like the radiation or being hit by the micro meteors or debris. The first robots to grace the RiTS will be two Robotics External Leak Locators (RELL). These do precisely what their name suggests: find leaks on the outside hull of the ISS.
The RELLs have been stored within the ISS while they are not being used. However, as space is limited in the Space Station the external method of storing all the robots will be a welcome addition. Astronauts will have more comfort and space to store all their equipment and also to carry out ongoing research.
On top of that, RELLs are required to be calibrated before heading out to work which will take a full 12 hours. This will be a faster and easier process as the station’s Dextre robotic arm will be able to receive them and also put them to work quickly as they will already be outside.