In context: Robots on-board the International Space Station assist astronauts in performing critical and day-to-day activities and are then stored within the ISS when not in use. However, the machines will soon get a garage for themselves where they will be stored externally, making more room for astronauts inside to carry out their research and other tasks comfortably.
Living conditions for both astronauts and robots are set to improve soon once NASA's "Robotic Tool Stowage" unit (RiTS) makes its way to the ISS.
RTS will serve more like a parking spot for robots, first of which will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). These are currently assigned to spot leaks on the outside hull of the ISS and will now be stored in their own "robot hotel" to protect them from space radiation and debris.
Robots need a place to stay in space, too. 🤖— NASA (@NASA) December 4, 2019
NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the @Space_Station. The protective storage unit for critical robotic tools is set to launch on Dec. 4 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission: https://t.co/RPBKBFlC3x pic.twitter.com/Yw4RBXcOR8
Using the tool stowage unit will bring plenty of benefits, chief among which is additional room for astronauts inside the ISS to store other equipment, perform research and carry out activities more comfortably. Interior space in such facilities is at a premium, after all.
Another plus is the faster and easier process of putting the robots to use. Since RiTS stores them externally, astronauts will no longer need to spend hours calibrating the robots for external conditions; instead, the ISS' Dextre robotic arm will allow them to quickly retrieve the robots and put them to work.