'Flying brain' created to follow German astronaut launches Friday

Enlarge  SpaceX launches NASA's TESS mission in April 2018. That booster may fly again

Enlarge SpaceX launches NASA's TESS mission in April 2018. That booster may fly again

This medicine ball-shaped, weighing at around 11-pound, Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON) is the first AI-powered device that is being sent to space.

It was an especially gorgeous launch, delighting spectators as the rocket plume expanded in the clear night sky like a giant halo, beneath a almost full moon at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

To prepare CIMON for its trip to space, researchers trained the robot using photos and voice samples of German astronaut Alexander Gerst as well as ISS procedures and plans.

CIMON is already on its way to the ISS as part of Space's "CRS-15" rocket resupply mission.

So while CIMON was made to help Gerst carry out research, it's also the beginning of the study of human-machine conversational AI interaction in space.

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All six crew members at the orbiting outpost can speak to CIMON, though it has been taught to work best with Gerst.

CIMON was launched from Florida by a SpaceX rocket along with food and supplies for the crew aboard the ISS.

An Earth science instrument built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and experiments investigating cellular biology and artificial intelligence, are among the research heading to the International Space Station following Friday's launch of a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 5:42 a.m. EDT. SpaceX will discard B1045 after liftoff, so don't expect a landing at the Cape or on a drone ship.

"Right now, our main mission is to support the astronauts with their daily tasks to save time, because time is the most valuable and most expensive thing on the ISS", Mr. Biniok said. It said in a press statement that it wouldn't attempt to recover Falcon 9's first stage. After this flight, all future of SpaceX will be on the Falcon 9 launch block 5-the ultimate and most powerful upgrade of the rocket which makes the land and even easier to reuse. Alexander is the geophysicist of the European Space Agency.

In the event of a delay, Sunday will host a backup launch attempt, but the forecast is expected to drop to 70 percent "go", Air Force forecasters said.

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