Robot launched into space to help with ISS operations

Blair Shiff

Three, two, one ... blast off! A humanoid robot just shot into space, courtesy of Russia, en route to the International Space Station with the purpose of testing a new rocket. That new rocket will replace the robot's current vehicle.

The Soyuz capsule, which often carries a space crew, lifted off from the launch pad in Kazakhstan overnight Thursday carrying the FEDOR robot, which is expected to dock on Saturday.

FEDOR, which stands for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, will be on a two-week mission that includes interacting with crew members and testing its capabilities.

“The robot’s main purpose is to be used in operations that are especially dangerous for humans onboard spacecraft and in outer space,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said Thursday after the launch.

The new Soyuz 2.1a rocket carrying the robot has only housed unmanned vehicles up until this point.

FEDOR is about the size of an adult human and can imitate human movements.

The robot sat in the commander’s seat, holding a small Russian flag in its right hand. The robot even tweeted after orbiting, confirming the success of the onboard testing.

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The ISS is a joint project of the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan.

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