> The reason to send the robot up to space seems contrived at
> the least. What kind of menial tasks can be done with such
> a slow thing? I think that it was done mostly because it looks cool.
Researching robotic technology for space exploration is exactly what we should be doing now. Sending humans into space is really costly, on so many levels.
> Why not hook up all those sensors with sensible communication
> devices so that readings are sent automatically to base?
> Retrofitting remote sensors would be a much more permanent solution.
Retrofitting sensors to what exactly? The idea of the robot is to do menial tasks. A sensor, by definition, can only sense, not do anything.
> The project was rushed for no good reason; why not take the
> three years and certify everything properly?
Somehow, I don't think lack of red tape is NASA's biggest problem.
> Sending AA batteries to space? I hope they are at least
> rechargeable batteries; however wasting millions sending
> fungible chemicals to space would be in line with the rest of
> the article.
Lithium-ion batteries can explode. Just ask Boeing. AA batteries may not be sexy, but they work. And yes, I am sure they used rechargable. Given that the cost to get anything into orbit is insane and they have plentiful solar power.
> Many companies build custom smartphones; it is not difficult
> to do. They will probably have higher quality than stock
> models built to last a year or two at most. Chasing Best
> Buy companies may make a good story though.
Why do they need a custom smartphone? Spending money just because you can doesn't seem like a wise idea. And one-offs often end up being unreliable as well as expensive. Turns out, companies really do test phones before they ship a million units.