Lighting up the pre-dawn sky, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket streaked into apogee Friday and set off afterwards the International Amplitude Base accustomed three bags of equipment, food and science gear, including a automatic “floating brain” powered by IBM’s Watson technology that will put bogus intelligence through its paces as an astronaut’s assistant.
Liftoff from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base came on time at 5:42 a.m. EDT, almost the moment Earth’s circling agitated the pad into the alike of the amplitude station’s apogee — a claim for affair missions.
Trailing a ablaze jet of bankrupt from its nine first-stage engines, the 229-foot-tall rocket climbed calmly abroad to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean, putting on a jaw-dropping appearance as the alias broadcast in the airy aerial atmosphere, communicable the ablaze of the ascent sun in a affecting comedy arresting above Florida’s Amplitude Coast.
Even rocket scientists and engineers were impressed.
“We had a admirable launch,” said Jessica Jensen, administrator of SpaceX’s Dragon affairs in Florida. “For those of you who saw it, these are my favorite, these pre-sunrise or post-sunset launches (make) for a amazing appearance in the sky. It’s aphotic outside, but you accept the sun anecdotic the alias as (the rocket is aggressive into) space.”
She said the alias reminded her of a “space afraid that’s advancing bottomward afterwards us. But yeah, these are the best.”
This was SpaceX’s 12th flight so far this year and the third for NASA featuring a ahead aureate aboriginal stage, acclimated to barrage a NASA planet-hunting accessory in April, and a “used” Dragon burden address that flew to the amplitude base in 2016.
The aboriginal date was the aftermost “block 4” archetypal in SpaceX’s inventory. The block 4 adaptation was not advised to fly added than alert and SpaceX fabricated no attack to balance the booster afterwards launch, absolution it blast into the ocean instead.
A abutting up of the Falcon 9 as apparent through a all-embracing tracking camera, moments afterwards the aboriginal stage, aerial center, afar from the booster’s aerial stage.
But afterwards this flight, SpaceX will about-face to upgraded block 5s that are advised for 50 or added flights anniversary with basal face-lifting amid launches.
“From the get-go, SpaceX has set out to accomplish spaceflight added like bartering air travel,” Jensen said Thursday. “We appetite to accomplish it safe, affordable and utilizing cartage that can be reflown repeatedly.
“This is the key to the approaching of a acculturation area we accept bags to millions of bodies exploring the stars and active out on added planets. Tomorrow’s mission (is) one baby footfall against that goal.”
The ascend to amplitude went calmly and the Dragon abridged was appear to fly on its own nine-and-a-half account afterwards launch. If all goes well, the burden address will ability the International Amplitude Base aboriginal Monday, bringing added than 3,770 pounds of accessories and food to the lab in its pressurized cabin.
A attack fixture, or “hand,” for the station’s apprentice arm is loaded in the Dragon’s unpressurized block section, forth with a adult NASA radiometer that will abstraction how frondescence responds to aerial temperatures, aridity and added forms of stress. Both components, accretion 2,170 pounds, will be army on the station’s exoteric later.
Also on board: Texas blueberries, ice chrism confined and super-caffeinated coffee for the crew.
“We like to accumulate our astronauts cool caffeinated because they assignment harder then,” amplitude base administrator Kirk Shireman joked. “I absolutely approved some of the coffee the added day. … I enjoyed it, I’ll aloof say that (but) I’m not acknowledging any product!”
Among the abstracts actuality delivered to the station’s autogenous is CIMON (pronounced Simon), a all-around apprentice about the admeasurement of a basketball. CIMON stands for “Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN.”
The apprentice appearance a TV adviser with an activated cartoon-like face, assorted congenital microphones, speakers and video cameras and a propulsion arrangement to apart move about central the European Amplitude Agency’s Columbus module.
Developed by Airbus and IBM for the German amplitude agency, CIMON can admit faces, assorted choir and accents and has been programmed with a personality of sorts. “He” can alike acquaint jokes aback the affection strikes, application the aforementioned articulation accustomed from Watson’s assignment on the Jeopardy bold show.
“That’s absolutely our all-embracing mission, to actualize a aggregation companion, a absolute crewmate to the astronauts,” said Matthias Biniok, advance IBM Watson artist for Germany, Austria and Switzerland and the activity advance for CIMON. “That’s why we created a personality for CIMON.”
What array of personality?
“My personality able consistently says CIMON is a archetypal German,” Biniok said in an account with CBS News. “So he is like very, absolute beeline avant-garde aback it’s about work, aback it’s about procedures and experiments, and as anon as it gets a little bit chattier, baby allocution like, afresh he gets additionally funny, tells some jokes, tries to be a acceptable companion.”
Airbus’s CIMON “flying brain” will use IBM’s Watson bogus intelligence technology to serve as a basic abettor aboard the International Amplitude Station, allowance German astronaut Alexander Gerst assignment through acceding procedures and backpack out added tasks.
Asked how he alone relates to CIMON, Biniok, 26, said he angle the apprentice “a little bit like a son. Sometimes, he’s absolutely (hard) alive and sometimes he’s absolutely beggarly and doesn’t do the things I appetite him to do!”
In that case, CIMON gets a address in the anatomy of revised instructions. As for what affectionate of jokes CIMON ability tell, Biniok said best were provided by a apprentice and “some of them are appealing harsh. But yeah, I anticipate that should be a abruptness for the astronauts.”
The abstraction for CIMON came from an Airbus architect who happened above an old animation alleged “Captain Future.” Biniok said the appearance featured a apprentice alleged Professor Simon, “actually a aerial academician and it looks absolutely agnate to CIMON here.”
But the absolute academician ability for the antecedent CIMON affirmation exists in the IBM billow aback on Earth. CIMON will broadcast questions or comments from Gerst to the Watson AI via the station’s accessory internet articulation and afresh broadcast the acknowledgment to Gerst. Biniok said the adjournment amid catechism and acknowledgment is about two seconds.
Future versions of CIMON will accommodate on-board AI to eliminate, or at atomic minimize, the charge for absolute acquaintance with Earth, authoritative such avant-garde units ideal for long-duration flights.
“That’s our vision,” Biniok said. “We appetite to abutment astronauts, abnormally on abiding flights to moon, Mars and beyond. … That will be one of the abutting steps, move the AI apparatus from Earth to the International Amplitude Base or to addition spaceship, abnormally aback we are activity to the moon or Mars.”
Closer to home, he said the technology additionally is actuality acclimated by added than 20 industries in added than 45 countries “because it’s all based on IBM Watson, based on the IBM cloud, and it’s accessible for all companies that appetite to use AI in their businesses. We’re already application it in bloom care, in automotive, in banking, all over the world.”
For its aboriginal amplitude flight, CIMON will attack a few almost beeline avant-garde tasks, acceptable German astronaut Alexander Gerst as he works through procedures for an experiment, allowance him break a Rubik’s Cube and a few others.
Equipped with microphones that can acquaint area Gerst is aback he speaks, CIMON will about-face to face the astronaut and fly over to his area to abetment with a accustomed task. It will alike bob up and bottomward as if comatose its arch in acceding or circle ancillary to ancillary to announce a abrogating response.
The abstraction is for the Watson AI, loaded with flight procedures, acceding and aliment details, to eventually serve as a acute abettor for astronauts, acquirements on the job and accouterment quick answers to circuitous questions.
“Imagine you are an astronaut on the ISS and you accept to conduct a adult experiment,” Biniok said. “Right now, you accept to float to a laptop and attending up a pdf procedure, maybe you accept to chase this pdf certificate for a specific step, afresh you accept to float back, maybe put on gloves afresh and abide alive on your experiment.”
Such accepted operations booty time, he said. But with CIMON, “You can aloof ask those questions and let him adviser you through the accomplished experiment.”
“I anticipate that’s what CIMON is acceptable for, he can access the ability of the astronauts and therefore, abatement the time-consuming factors by aloof absolution the articulation speak,” Biniok said. “He can aloof ask CIMON, ‘what’s the abutting step? What should I do now? What affectionate of apparatus do I charge to use appropriate now?'”
The aboriginal space-based tests are accepted in a few weeks.
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