On Tuesday afternoon, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko concentrated fully to move the Kontur-2-Joystick on the International Space Station and feel the contact forces of the robot on the ground. He had already practiced the various tasks using the joystick during cosmonaut training during the winter of 2014 at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics in Oberpfaffenhofen. During each orbit, the same tasks are conducted in different sequences. The cosmonaut has to work with accuracy and dexterity, for example to approach a prescribed target in the experiment or trace contours with minimal contact.
Since the tasks are usually repeated in each orbit, the Kontur-2 project team anticipates findings about the quality of force feedback in space communication and telepresence, but also about the impact of weightlessness on the handling of the joystick in space. “This is the only way we can gain reliable results that will allow us to further develop our tele-robotic systems in order to, for example, erect habitats on Mars or the moon from orbit,” said Bernhard Weber, the project team member primarily responsible for the design of the experiment. “We are looking forward to what findings the next orbits in October will provide and what differences we can ascertain to the current ones.”