The commander of the International Space Station, Daniel Burbank, shook hands Wednesday with Robonaut. It's the first handshake ever between a human and a humanoid in space.
NASA's Robonaut was launched aboard space shuttle Discovery last February. Crews have been testing it to see how it one day might help astronauts perform space station chores.
On Wednesday, ground controllers activated computer software that enabled the robot to extend its right hand, fingers outstretched. Burbank took the mechanical hand and pumped it up and down, as the robot's fingers tightened around his hand.
"The first human-humanoid handshake in space," Burbank proclaimed.
A cheer went up in the control room in Huntsville, Ala.
"For the record, it was a firm handshake," Burbank radioed. "Quite an impressive robot."
Robonaut -- the first humanoid in space, built from the waist up -- said via Twitter that it was an awesome experience, then followed up with some sign language.
"The handshake was definitely one of the highlights of the day, but I'm not done yet," Robonaut said in a tweet. (A NASA spokeswoman actually files the tweets under the handle AstroRobonaut.)
"Did you catch that? I don't have a voice, but I sent you a message -- Hello world ... in sign language!" Robonaut tweeted. "What a day! I passed my tests with flying colors!!!"
Dutch space station astronaut Andre Kuipers couldn't resist a little robot humor.
"Now let's hope he's never heard of HAL9000, Skynet or Cylons," Kuipers wrote in a tweet.
HAL was the conspiring computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey." The people-hating artificial intelligence system Skynet is from the "Terminator" films, while Cylons are cyber-warriors from "Battleship Gallactica."
The astronauts bring the humanoid out every so often for testing.
It was awakened in space last August and made its first motion in October. A future model could venture outside for spacewalks, saving its human companions time and keeping them safe.
Robonaut spends most of its time in hibernation aboard the space station.
More Nation & World Headlines
Russia launches airstrikes in Syria, says ISIS is target 8:37 a.m. Drivers on drugs: Study links roadway accidents to legalization of marijuana S. Sudan president, rebel leader trade blame for fighting GOP: Planned Parenthood spends federal money on politics Obama says fight against Islamic State group will take time Congress: U.S. fails to stop most people trying to join ISIS Yemen officials: Death toll from strikes on wedding at 131 CIA pulled officers from Beijing after breach of federal personnel records
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.