NASA Astrobee Robot Software  0.16.6
Flight software for the Astrobee robot operating inside the International Space Station.
Install for general users

Usage instructions for non-NASA users

Install the 64-bit version of Ubuntu 16.04 on a host machine, and make sure that you can checkout and build code.

sudo apt-get install build-essential git

Note: You will need 4 GBs of RAM to compile the software. If you don't have that much RAM available, please use swap space.

Note: Preferably install Ubuntu 16.04. These instructions are also valid for Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04, however at this time we do not officially support any other operating system or Ubuntu version.

Note: Please ensure you install the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. We do not support running Astrobee Robot Software on 32-bit systems.

Machine setup

Checkout the project source code

At this point you need to decide where you'd like to put the source code (ASTROBEE_WS) on your machine:

export ASTROBEE_WS=$HOME/astrobee

First, clone the flight software repository and media:

git clone $ASTROBEE_WS/src
pushd $ASTROBEE_WS/src
git submodule update --init --depth 1 description/media

If you are planning to work with guest science code, you will also need the astrobee_android repository. You should checkout the repository as a submodule:

git submodule update --init --depth 1 submodules/android


Next, install all required dependencies:

Note: root access is necessary to install the compiled debian packages below

Note: Before running this please ensure that your system is completely updated by running 'sudo apt-get update' and then 'sudo apt-get upgrade'

cd src/scripts/setup
sudo apt-get update
cd debians
cd ../
sudo rosdep init
rosdep update

Important: you can safely ignore the following error messages, as they are simply letting you know that certain libraries cannot be found. These libraries are for internal NASA use only, and are not required by public users provided that software is launched with DDS disabled.

E: Unable to locate package libroyale1
E: Unable to locate package rti
E: Unable to locate package libmiro0
E: Unable to locate package libsoracore1
E: Unable to locate package libroyale-dev
E: Unable to locate package rti-dev
E: Unable to locate package libsoracore-dev
E: Unable to locate package libmiro-dev

Configuring the build

Note for the build setup

When compiling, the $WORKSPACE_PATH defines where the devel, build, logs and install directories are created. If you want to customize the install path then the $INSTALL_PATH can be defined. By default, the configure script uses the following paths:

  • native build path: $ASTROBEE_WS/build
  • native install path: $ASTROBEE_WS/install

If you are satisfied with these paths, you can invoke the without the -p and -w options. For the simplicity of the instructions below, we assume that $WORKSPACE_PATH and $INSTALL_PATH contain the location of the build and install path. For example:


Native build

The configure script prepares your build directory for compiling the code. Note that is simply a wrapper around CMake that provides an easy way of turning on and off options. To see which options are supported, simply run -h.

./src/scripts/ -l -F -D
source ~/.bashrc

If you run a Zsh session, then

./src/scripts/ -l -F -D
source ~/.zshrc

The configure script modifies your .bashrc/.zshrc to source setup.bash/setup.zsh for the current ROS distribution and to set CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH. It is suggested to examine it and see if all changes were made correctly.

If you want to explicitly specify the workspace and install directories, use instead:

./src/scripts/ -l -F -D -p $INSTALL_PATH -w $WORKSPACE_PATH

Note: If a workspace is specified but not an explicit install distectory, install location will be $WORKSPACE_PATH/install.

Note: Make sure you use the -F and -D flags. If these flags are not used, the code will not compile. The -F flag is used to turn off building the Picoflex. This is only needed for running on the robot and is not needed for the simulator. The -D is used to turn off building the dds bridge. The bridge is used to communicate with our ground data system and is also not needed for the simulator.

Building the code

To build, run catkin build in the $WORKSPACE_PATH. Note that depending on your host machine, this might take in the order of tens of minutes to complete the first time round. Future builds will be faster, as only changes to the code are rebuilt, and not the entire code base.

catkin build

If you configured your virtual machine with more than the baseline resources, you can adjust the number of threads (eg. -j4) to speed up the build.

Cross Compiling

Please contact your Astrobee point of contact if you need to cross compile the code.

For more information on running the simulator and moving the robot, please see the Simulation.