Japan’s zero gravity space drone has started sending pictures and videos from the International Space Station (ISS) back down to earth.
The Japan Electronic Materials (JEM) Internal Ball Camera, or Int-Ball as it was nicknamed, hovers around the space station on its own accord and captures images and video of the astronauts to send back to ground.
Int-Ball is operated out of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, a city located in Japan’s northern Kantō region.
The video below (subtitled in Japanese) shows the construction of the drone and a few videos from Int-Ball itself.
Aside from being perhaps the cutest machine ever created, the purpose of Int-Ball is to reduce the time spent by astronauts recording and photographing on-board conditions. These tasks account for 10% of total working hours according to JAXA.
Int-Ball uses existing drone technology to operate and its inner and outer structure was created through 3D-printing. JAXA wants the drone to be capable of moving anywhere at anytime via autonomous flight, thereby improving the cooperation between astronauts on the ISS and researchers on the ground.
Int-Ball was delivered to the ISS by a US rocket that launched on June 4.