Video The Russian national space agency has strapped a hefty humanoid robot weighing 160kg (353lb) to a rocket and launched it to the International Space Station.
At 0338 UTC on Thursday, a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying supplies and science experiments for the ISS. The only passenger on board was the Skybot F-850 - nicknamed Fedor for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research - which was seen holding a small Russian flag in the capsule.
Roscosmos scientists have been developing and testing the 'droid for years, and it looks quite menacing at first, standing at five feet eleven inches. The machine garnered attention online when a video showed it, er, shooting two guns at the same time, which you can see below.
Thankfully, it won’t be doing that in space. Instead the bot will be carrying out menial tasks, such as connecting electrical cables, and using tools like screwdrivers and spanners under zero-gravity conditions.
“The main purpose of the robot is to use it during the hazardous tasks onboard the spacecraft including spacewalks,” according to a Roscosmos statement. If robots like Fedor can carry out spacewalks safely, using them out in the void will save hours of time and effort spent getting human astronauts into spacesuits.
It’s not the first time a humanoid bot has been sent to the orbiting science lab. That goes to R2, a machine built by NASA, launched in 2011 that has since broken down. And Fedor will only be robot companion in space for a short time; it is expected to return to Earth for evaluation after spending 10 days in the station. ®