Did you know?
Each Astrobee has a bee-related name, including Queen, Honey, Bumble, Melissa, and Killer.
Before Astrobee, there were SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellite), which were free flying robots operating aboard the International Space Station since 2006. Astrobee is a new generation of robotic free fliers that's more advanced, versatile, and will be a big help for the humans on the ISS. One of the biggest improvements is the propulsion system. On two faces of Astrobee, behind a protective screen, there's an impeller: A big fan that sucks in air. The impellers, which counter-rotate with each other to minimize gyroscopic forces, are constantly generating a pressurized pocket of air inside of the robot, which is directed out of steerable nozzles on each face. If all of the nozzles are closed, Astrobee doesn't move, and opening them individually or in combination generates thrust, which moves the robot in the opposite direction. After launching to space in 2019, three Astrobees are currently at the ISS: Bumble, Honey, and Queen Bee. In 2021, for the first time, Astrobee demonstrated autonomous free flight in space.