An anonymous reader writes "The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor recently returned to Earth as ambassadors, harbingers of a new era of space exploration. Scientists at NASA are saying that the recent assembly of the Dextre bot is the first step in a long-term space-based man/machine partnership. '"The work we're doing now -- the robotics we're doing -- is what we're going to need to do to build any work station or habitat structure on the moon or Mars," said Allard Beutel, a spokesman for NASA. "Yes, this is just the beginning." Further joint human-robot projects will "be a symbiotic relationship. It's part of a long-term effort for us to branch out into the solar system. We're going to need this type of hand-in-robotic-hand [effort] to make this happen. We're in the infancy of space exploration. We have to start somewhere and this is as good a place as any."'"