October 6, 2022

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NASA sends a surgical robot to the International Space Station

NASA sends a surgical robot to the International Space Station

For the past 20 years or so, Professor Shane Variator and colleagues at Virtual Incision have been manipulating the MIRA surgeon, a remotely controlled robotic surgeon — or is it a surgeon robot?

MIRA stands for “miniature in vivo robot assistant” and the company that developed it originated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the USA. In 2021, the MIRA was remotely controlled by a surgeon and used to remove parts of a patient’s colon, through an incision in the patient’s navel.

The advantages of such robots include that they do not tremble on the “hand” and can perform movements much smaller and more precise than those of a human surgeon.

top and forward

But NASA will now fund MIRA to take a long step forward – and even higher:

In 2024, MIRA will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS).



MIRA will be tested there to see how it works in weightlessness. There are likely to be some differences in how the robot performs in the room, Variator log says:

Dying or loosening of the joints will lead to inaccuracies in a weightless environment.

The short-term goal is for MIRA to be able to operate on astronauts in emergency situations, either by remote control from Earth or by another astronaut on the mission, if Earth is too far away.

long term goal

However, the long-term goal is for MIRA to be able to function fully on its own. The astronaut presses a button, MIRA does the job, after two hours the process is done and the astronaut presses the button again.

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This will also be tried aboard the International Space Station, but fortunately it will not be tested in humans. Instead, MIRA will simulate a process by sliding the metal rings and pieces over the rubber bands.

Fretor believes that astronauts’ self-surgery in outer space is still 50-100 years away.