Become Express Subscriber

UPSC Essentials: One word a day – Astrobee

What is Astrobee? How is it connected with ISAAC and SPHERES? Aspirant must take a look at this important term in news for UPSC-CSE. Also, do not miss to solve the MCQ below.

upsc, astrobee, nasa, upsc essentials, robotics, space, isaac, one word a day, science and technology, upsc key, upsc prelims 2023, upsc mains 2022, sarkari naukri, government jobsNASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough poses with the three Astrobee robots. (Image credit: NASA/Shane Kimbrough)

Take a look at the essential concepts, terms, and phenomena from the static and current parts of the UPSC-CSE. Also, check the answer to the previous MCQ.

Word: Astrobee

Subject: Science and Technology

Relevance: Humans are not alone on the International Space Station. Moreover, anything which is related to space becomes important for UPSC exams. This one has robotics involved too. Remember, it is an important term for prelims but it can also be in your mains answers as an example. If you know apt examples, a difficult statement may look simple. Don’t miss the MCQ at the end.

Subscriber Only Stories

Why in news?

For the first time ever, two Astrobee robots have begun working independently on the International Space Station, side by side with humans.

What is Astrobee?

—Astrobee is NASA’s new free-flying robotic system.

—According to NASA, “it will help astronauts reduce the time they spend on routine duties, leaving them more time to focus on the things that only humans can do. Working autonomously or via remote control by astronauts, flight controllers or researchers on the ground, the robots are designed to complete tasks such as taking inventory, documenting experiments conducted by astronauts with their built-in cameras or working together to move cargo throughout the station.”

—Astrobee also consists of a system that serves as a research platform that can be outfitted and programmed to conduct microgravity experiments. Thus, it will help to learn more about how robotics can benefit astronauts in space.

What are Honey, Queen and Bumble?

—The three free-flying robots are named Honey, Queen, and Bumble. The robots are shaped like cubes 12.5 inches wide.

—The Astrobee system consists of three cube-shaped robots, some software and a docking charging station used for recharging. They are about 32 centimetres wide.


—The three robots propel themselves using electric fans that allow them to fly through the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

—They “look around” and navigate their surroundings using cameras and sensors.

—All of the robots are equipped with a perching arm that allows them to grasp handrails to either conserve energy or grab and hold items.


—When they are running low on charge, they can automatically return to their docking station to begin recharging.

What else you should know about Astrobee?

—The Astrobee robots are built on the knowledge acquired from operating SPHERES (Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellite) robots which have been operating on the International Space Station for over a decade. Once fully commissioned, the Astrobee system will take over for SPHERES as the space station’s robotic test facility.

—In the latest development, Bumble tested its navigation ability in the Harmony module and gathered new station mapping data while Queen captured its first 360-degree panoramic image of the interior of the orbital laboratory.

—The mapping and imaging experiments conducted by Astrobee are part of the Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) project, managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

—As part of ISAAC, project scientists have been teaching Astrobees to autonomously support spacecraft monitoring, maintenance and other tasks. Apart from making space missions safer and more cost-effective, Astrobees could manage routine chores that would free up human operators for more complex work.


—Even more importantly, Astrobees could be instrumental in future space crafts that won’t be crewed year-round, like the Gateway space station. These will need autonomous robots to keep things runnings while humans are away.

Point to ponder: The best way to predict the future is to create it. Discuss with reference to advancement in the field of science and technology.



Which of the following statement is not true with respect to space technology?

a) Astrobee is NASA’s new free-flying robotic system.

b) ISAAC project is developing technology for combining robots inside a spacecraft with vehicle infrastructure subsystems.


c) SPHERES consists of 3 free-flying satellites on board the International Space Station that test a diverse range of hardware and software from scientists all over America.

d)Bumble is the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards.

Answer to the previous MCQ- UPSC Essentials: One word a day– flyways (c)


First published on: 02-08-2022 at 03:54:23 pm
Next Story

‘The govt is falling’: Jharkhand MLA Kumar Jaimangal behind FIR claimed same year ago

Next Story