The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released images and videos captured by the Internal Ball Camera drone, known as the Int-Ball. The zero gravity drone is meant to help the crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) with their photography requirements. The Int-Ball is the first drone of its kind that can record videos in space while being operated from ground stations.
The drone is controlled remotely from the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. Flight controllers and researchers on the ground can check the images and videos in realtime, which can be relayed back to the crew. The exterior and interior structures of the Int-Ball were realised using 3D printing. Photography requirements takes up 10 percent of the time of the crew on board the ISS, which the Int-Ball is expected to reduce.
The Int-Ball was delivered to the Japanese module of the ISS by the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on 4 June 2017. The Int-Ball has taken up permanent residence in the Japanese Experimental Module (JEM), also known as the Kibo module. The Int-Ball will allow researchers on the ground to get a live video feed from the same viewpoint as the crew on board the ISS. This will allow for more streamlined experiments to be conducted in the JEM.