The space shuttle Discovery rocketed into Earth's orbit Thursday with a different kind of passenger that isn't human. It's a humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 or R2 for short and will be carried by Discovery astronauts to the International Space Station where it will reside in a container, likely for several months, until it is unpacked and assembled for testing. Here's more from NASA about R2.
Probably the biggest difference between R2 and the astronauts is that R2 only has a one-way ticket.
Photo credits: NASA
by Isaac Asimov And by sending robots into space, Asimov's words from 1953 become prophetic, nearly 20 years after his death.
An unnecessarily anthropomorphic robot? Called "R2", for Armstrong's sakes? Why not make it six feet tall, cover it in fur and call it Chewey since you were at it? Maybe "Chewey Ahnuld", y'know, to cover more than one franchise. And give him some cute catchphrase, like, say "I von't be back". Nice way to close the shuttle program on a useless PR move for 8-year olds, NASA. Way to go.