When President Obama called up the crew of astronauts aboard the International Space Station, he naturally exchanged some pleasantries, congratulated them on their great work, and talked about the space shuttle Discovery's safe trip—but then he had a little bone to pick with the space dwellers.
Why hadn't these folks unpacked their visitor, Robonaut 2, yet? The humanoid robot—who is also known as R2—is the first of his kind to travel into space—and yet he's still sitting around in a foam box!
Here's how the scolding over that issue went:
"I understand that you guys have a new crew member, this R2 robot," Obama said from the Oval Office. "Are you guys making him do chores up there? Washing the dishes or something? Or does he have more exciting jobs?"
Discovery's commander, Steven Lindsey, explained that the astronauts had pulled the robot out of the newly installed storage unit but had yet to remove the packing foam around the humanoid.
"He's still in packing foam?" Obama asked with a laugh. "That's a shame, man. Come on guys, unpack the guy. He flew all that way and you guys aren't unpacking him?"
Lindsey said the robot, officially known as Robonaut 2, has been encased in foam for months.
"Every once in a while, we hear kind of some scratching sounds from inside and maybe a 'let me out, let me out.' "
"All right, the president said, "well, let him stretch his legs pretty soon."
What Obama didn't realize during this conversation is that the astronauts actually have an excuse to continue ignoring the robot's terrifying pleas for release for a while longer:
NASA plans to keep Robonaut boxed up on the International Space Station until long after Discovery departs with its crew of six. Flight director Royce Renfrew said after Obama's call that that was still the plan.
Obama also forgot that R2 doesn't actually have any legs that could be stretched. [PhysOrg]
Robonaut photo via PhysOrg