HOUSTON — Robots may be given a larger role in the assembly in orbit of America's $8-billion space station, cutting the amount of space walking required by up to half, a NASA official said Friday.
Astronauts have criticized early concepts for the orbiting station because its construction would require almost 700 hours of space walking, far more than ever attempted.
Andrew J. Stofan, in charge of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's space station program and head of a task force reviewing plans for the project, said during a briefing that engineers had determined that space walking should be limited to no more than 24 hours for each of the shuttle missions required to assemble the station.
Earlier concepts called for up to 48 hours, Stofan said.
Under a revised plan, he said, robots--computer-driven or remotely operated machines--could be used to assemble trusses and beams.