updated 3/4/2011 8:27:07 AM ET 2011-03-04T13:27:07

President Barack Obama called the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, and he couldn't resist asking whether they were putting their new robot to work washing the dishes.

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Obama said the new robonaut, named R2, was getting a lot of attention on Earth. He asked the Discovery crew whether they were assigning the robot a list of chores, but crew members said R2 was not even out of his packing foam yet.

That led Obama to implore them: "Come on, guys, unpack the guy!"

In his call Thursday, Obama also saluted the astronauts for their work to keep the space station running so smoothly.

He also paid tribute to Discovery space shuttle, which is being retired after this flight.

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