Have you ever heard about Kirobo, the first robot astronaut?
After three months that already feel like two years, this week we were supposed to undergo training in Japan. The Japanese Space Exploration Agency (in Japanese: 宇宙航空研究開発機構, in English: JAXA) is one of the five space agencies which are funding the International Space Station. However this plan was (happily) foiled, and thus, thanks to the Japanese, who sealed their gates due to the Coronavirus, we landed in Israel for an unscheduled visit.
Training, of course, proceeded as usual: Every morning, bright and early, a Japanese Zoom workout, a virtual tour of the Japanese KIBO Space, which consists of two components - a laboratories facility and a storage facility. We learned about the special systems there, the external laboratory with its robotic arm and troubleshooting. Turns out that due to a slight leak on the Russian side of the Station, a great deal of equipment has been transferred into the KIBO space temporarily. Our courteous guide Maria gave me a few bits of advice in case I should sleep in the Japanese space.
We were introduced to the Japanese robot Kirobo, which sometimes hovers in the Japanese space. Kirobo, which is the first robot astronaut, was launched to the International Space Station (August 2013) to keep the astronauts there company and ease their loneliness a bit. Unfortunately, the Israeli robot built by the Tel Aviv University will not be joining us.
And as usual - at the end of each day of studies we did a test, with a summary test at the end of the week.
So it was that we were honored to meet Israel’s President and his wife while we were in Jerusalem. They stressed the importance of the Rakia Mission and said how significant it is for everybody here and in particular to the younger generation. And we also were fortunate enough to receive the President’s blessing along with the prayer I will be taking with me to the Space Station - “From All Corners of the Heavens has He Brought You to Earth”
Breaking News: We received an update from NASA that February 28 is our launch date. The Falcon 9 rocket launched into space with a Turkish communication satellite and returned safely, and SpaceX are now continuing in their preparations for the launch.
Terms from Outer Space:
A few words on the Japanese National Space Exploration Agency - established on October 1, 2003, through a merger of three bodies which up until then had been unrelated: the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is credited with the majority of the successes in the space program on X-ray astronomy in the 1980s and 1990s, the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL), which pre-merger concentrated on flight research, and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) which , since it was established (October 1, 1969) has developed launchers and satellites and has also built a module for space-based experimentation, which is Japan’s contribution toward the International Space Station.
The Agency is responsible for conducting research, development and launching of satellites into orbit and also for launching missions to the asteroids. The Agency is also considering sending a manned mission to the Moon.