back to article International space station testing Wi-Fi links with incoming craft, with an eye on autonomous docking

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency today (JAXA) said it successfully launched the last of its H-II transfer vehicles to the International Space Station – this one carrying the unusual cargo of a remote-controllable rolling robot and a Wi-Fi-in-space experiment. The H-II, Kountouri (white stork) in Japanese, has flown nine …

  1. Francis Boyle

    Is the robot called Roller?

    I've heard of a bending robot and even an ironing robot but a rolling robot? Are there a lot of things on the ISS that need to be rolled?

    Oh wait, it's the vehicle itself that rolls (on wheels). That makes much more sense.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Is the robot called Roller?

      Are there a lot of things on the ISS that need to be rolled?

      Depends how the weed garden in that inflatable podule is doing.

      (Because if "smoking weed in zero gee" isn't on your bucket list, it bloody well should be.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is the robot called Roller?

      How exactly are the wheels going to be useful in zero gee? Is it going to be mounted on a rail, with wheels controlling movement along it, or what? I'm sure NASA and avatarin have thought through the lack of gravity-provided contact friction usually used to wheel things around down here, so what are the wheels for?

  2. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Dustbin lids

    The idea is to see if WLANs can do the job so that they can be used to assist autonomous docking for future Moon and Mars missions.

    They might think they can have free choice of channels, but have they tested for interference from dustbin lids?

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    Please tell me....'s made by Huawei.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "made available to the public"

    Does that mean that the good people abord the ISS will soon have a video-recording-enabled robot trundling around and watching them ? With the entire world able to see what they are doing ?

    It must be an idea from marketing. I'm sure that the control software will keep the robot away from private quarters and the space toilet, but still, there is a good risk that thing will get nicknamed The Eye Of Sauron before long.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "made available to the public"

      One also hopes the "kill" command will be disabled when under the control of the general public.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: "made available to the public"

      > trundling around

      It wouldn't go far in zero gravity... From the article I think it will be bolted near a window and allow people to use it to have a real-time look down "from space" (I for one would very much like that). Now why use a whole robot to do what a $10 webcam could have done? Marketing I guess. *shrug*

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: "made available to the public"

        There is already a NASA "View from the ISS" channel, uses an old experiment's downlink hardware.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "made available to the public"

          Thanks! Didn't know it.

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    real-time wireless video transfer between the ISS and a visiting spacecraft.

    So, on previous space docking where there was video from both craft being seen in real time by the people/systems controlling the docking, did they throw a line across first and plug it in? Or are TV transmission via RF no longer classed as "wireless" despite not using, erm, wires. It's a bit like "on a mobile device". Hey, we are improving and adapting a system, lets tell everyone its a "first" because we tweaked the method a bit.

    1. 96percentchimp

      Re: real-time wireless video transfer between the ISS and a visiting spacecraft.

      If you're talking about the SpaceX Demo-1 mission, it may be that both feeds were visible to the ground, but only to each via ground relay through the TDRS satellites, which isn't practical for the Moon or Mars.

      I assume this will be more like an approaching spacecraft automatically becoming part of the station's network so it can be controlled remotely and broadcast its progress so the station's computer or occupants can judge whether they think it's safe to proceed without the go/no-go from Earth-based mission control that happens on the ISS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Stable and high-rate data transfer is critical to the real-time video monitoring required for docking." (Referring to autonomous missions)

    If the mission is autonomous, why would 2-way video be needed? Wouldn't one craft remain static while the docking craft undergoes maneuvering? If so, you'd just need appropriate visual targets on the "non maneuvering" craft (plus maybe a longer range RF beacon) and appropriate controllers on the maneuvering craft.

    I know we have some commentards around that understand orbital mechanics pretty well.. looking forward to understanding.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: autonomous?

      Probably just for tracking rotation of the other craft? Or diuble the sensors for double the accuracy.

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