Atlantic - Nov. 30, 2012
For Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, though, space-borne loneliness may be assuaged by a different kind of experiment. A team of researchers at Tokyo University -- along with the robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi and the ad agency Dentsu -- have been since 2011 spearheading a project to give Wakata some companionship during his upcoming stint on the International Space Station. That project? A small humanoid robot that will be sent to live with Wakata on the orbiting laboratory. The android will be 13.4 inches tall and 2.2 pounds. It will arrive at the ISS next summer, a few months ahead of Wakata's own arrival. Its name is still to be determined -- by a public contest -- but it will look, per a sketch released yesterday, something like this:
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