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A tiny robot completed the first remote-controlled surgery in space

The robot, spaceMIRA, docked at the space station on Feb. 1 following its launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 30.
The surgical robot known as spaceMIRA.
Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 13, 2024

This tiny but mighty robot just nailed its first surgery demo in zero gravity up in space this weekend. 

On Saturday, surgeons from Lincoln, Nebraska, remotely controlled a two-pound robot, known as spaceMIRA, as it performed multiple surgeries on simulated tissue at an orbiting lab in the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, according to an exclusive report by CNN.

Surgeons control the robot from a console, directing its camera and instruments inside a patient's body. 

“As thrilling as it is to have our technology in space, we expect the impact of this research will be most notable on Earth,” said John Murphy, president and CEO of Virtual Incision, the startup that created spaceMIRA, in a press release. “The introduction of miniRAS (miniaturized robotic-assisted surgery) has the potential to revolutionize health care by making every operating room robot ready. We are taking a significant step by developing MIRA, an investigational device currently under review by the FDA. The testing with spaceMIRA will tell us more about the future potential of miniRAS as it might be applied to remote surgery applications.”

SpaceMIRA docked at the space station on Feb. 1, following its launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 30 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

According to Virtual Incision, many regions in the U.S. lack sufficient local surgeons, a deficit that could worsen over the next decade with projections exceeding 30,000, and by exploring remote surgery in space the company offers a potential solution to aid these underserved areas by enabling doctors to perform surgeries from locations far away.