The German Aerospace Center have developed a robot that a human operator can control from Earth, or perhaps from orbit, that can perform tasks in space that would be too dangerous for an astronaut. The advanced robot will be able to fix satellites in orbit.
The bot is at heart similar to NASA’s Robonaut experimental unit, intended to act as a telepresence mechanoid to let a human operator perform tasks in space from the safety of a control room on earth (or possibly in orbit, safely inside a space ship while the robot is exposed to space). To this end the machine is packed with sensors and motors, and his huge “driver’s suit” is actually equipped with force feedback systems so the operator knows when the robots hands or limbs have contacted an object such as a satellite or tool. Also like Robonaut the bot is intended to be a torso robot only, as legs aren’t strictly needed in orbital operations.
But Justin’s designers think his purview may be a little bigger than Robonaut’s, as the U.S. bot will be mainly intended for ISS activity, and Justin will be mounted on his own satellite. This gives the robot the chance to maneuver in orbit, and thus to actually hunt down and grapple to satellites, where he can fix problems or swap out errant parts. And he can, by judicious application of some rocket thrusts, toss dead units out of orbit, so they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the post-Space Shuttle era, this sort of capability could be incredibly useful, allowing extended lifespan for satellites and systems that would otherwise fail without human attention, and even cleaning up of debris from the space lanes without risk to human life.