The ISS WiFi Learns A New Trick With An Eye To Autonomous Docking
WiFi In Spaaaaace!
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully launched the last of its H-II transfer vehicles to the International Space Station and the cargo is rather interesting. It will be delivering a remote controllable rolling robot and using an HTV Wireless LAN Demonstration device to dock. The WLD is intended to enable real time video communication between the H-II vehicle and the ISS, to see if it will allow it to successfully dock autonomously, hopefully playing The Blue Danube whilst approaching.
In order to pull this off they will be using a WLAN antennae and a camera that will beam video to a laptop aboard the ISS so that the crew can keep an eye on how it performs and to provide corrections if required. The ability to safely and effectively dock autonomously will be needed for future space missions to other celestial bodies such as our moon and Mars. If this experiment works it will clear a major obstacle for such exploration.
As for the rolling robot? It is made by the Japanese airline company ANA who have released mobile telepresence robots here on Earth and that is exactly what is being delivered to the ISS. They hope to make it available to the public later this year to allow you to tour around the ISS, virtually.
The Wi-Fi payload is called the “HTV Wireless LAN Demonstration” (WLD) and will, according to ISS logs, “demonstrate real-time wireless video transfer between the ISS and a visiting spacecraft.