An anonymous reader writes: When Tom Wolfe wrote about NASA's first Mercury astronauts, he wanted to know what combination of guts, skill, and derring-do inspired these men to "sit up on top of an enormous Roman candle and wait for someone to light the fuse." About 50 years after the Mercury astronauts' heyday, a new kind of space pioneer is preparing for the trip to the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, NASA's first robot astronaut, will catch a ride with the space shuttle this week, and will soon take up residence at the space station. So what does it take to become the first robotic astronaut? Discover Magazine talked to one of the project engineers, and found out about R2's qualifications and training regimen. It's pretty entertaining, and comes with photos and video.