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Miniature robot performs first simulated surgery in space

The miniature 60-centimeter robotic surgeon performed its first simulated surgery in space, cutting through rubber bands simulating elastic tissue to prepare for performing medical procedures remotely in microgravity.

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On Saturday, spaceMIRA (Miniaturized In-vivo Robotic Assistant), a surgical robot controlled from Earth, performed a demonstration cutting simulated human tissue aboard the International Space Station.

Six surgeons on Earth remotely controlled the robotic arm on the ISS. The robot surgeon successfully completed the tasks, but one problem remains – the communication delay of 0.85 seconds between sending a command from Earth and receiving it by the robot in space.

According to one of the surgeons, Michael Jobst, when operating on a living patient, such a delay is unacceptable, since in case of bleeding it is necessary to respond immediately.

However, the tests carried out are only the initial stage in the development of solutions for a robotic surgeon with the goal of teaching him in the future to perform operations independently without the help of a ground operator. In the future, such a robot will be indispensable for long flights, for example to Mars, or for the development of a lunar station.

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