A Funny Aside From 400km Straight Up

by Michael Mullaney on March 4, 2011

I recently introduced you to Nathaniel Quillin, the Rensselaer sophomore who worked on NASA’s humanoid robot that was launched into space last week. Along with Nathaniel and us here at The Approach, another certain someone is anxious to see the robot, named Robonaut 2, in action.

From the AP:

In a phone call to the two crews, President Barack Obama congratulated [the crew] for their joint mission and made note of shuttle Discovery’s final flight.

Then he went straight to the robot matter.

“I understand that you guys have a new crew member, this R2 robot,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “Are you guys making him do chores up there? Washing the dishes or something? Or does he have more exciting jobs?”

Discovery’s commander, Steven Lindsey, explained that the astronauts had pulled the robot out of the newly installed storage unit but had yet to remove the packing foam around the humanoid.

“He’s still in packing foam?” Obama asked with a laugh. “That’s a shame, man. Come on guys, unpack the guy. He flew all that way and you guys aren’t unpacking him?”

Lindsey said the robot, officially known as Robonaut 2, has been encased in foam for months.

“Every once in a while, we hear kind of some scratching sounds from inside and maybe a ‘let me out, let me out.'”

“All right,” the president said, “well, let him stretch his legs pretty soon.”

Actually, R2 doesn’t have legs yet. The robot exists only from the waist up.

To read more about Nathaniel and his work at NASA, click here to read my story. Also be sure to reach the stellar stories by the Times Union and Troy Record. Lastly, click on the picture at the top of this post to watch the excellent story on Nathaniel and Robonaut 2 by local ABC affiliate WTEN.