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Published on : Aug 11, 2017

NASA has broadly automated routine space tasks such as docking, orbital rendezvous, and mapping of trajectory. Also, since the late 1990s, NASA has been refining ‘robonauts’ that includes medical systems that are able to perform procedures and tests while being remotely controlled by a doctor or in some cases, handle the situation without involving any humans.

Automation has certainly made travelling and working in space less perilous and cut down the number of human interventions needed for a typical mission. Michael Barratt, 58, a NASA flight surgeon and astronaut has been the innovator of robotic workstation for medical purposes. Barratt who lives in Camas, Walsh has helped in writing the book on how to tackle medical problems in outer space. He has also played a significant role in getting space medicine program of NASA to the International Space Station and Shuttle-Mir project.

Doctors in NASA are using remote controls and telemedicine to cure minor trauma and motion sickness in outer space. Barratt has admitted that he also examines levels of stress of the crew member and any other probable psychological issues. Barratt also jokes about the machines used by NASA saying they don’t use these robotic systems to monitor human anxiety with reference to the deadly operating system HAL from Stanley Kubrick’s cult hit 2001: A Space Odyssey

Astronauts are trained to anticipate malfunctioning systems, even though much of the hard boring work of space travel has been computerized. Barratt adds that they still hand-check the trajectory calculations and guidance for motion control as both computers and humans have faults. He also mentions that to survive as a multi-planet species, we need a blend of machines and humans supporting each other.