Cool and calm as one of the original Russian cosmonauts, FEDOR the robot said, “Everything is normal,” on his Twitter account, after he blasted off on a two-week mission to support the International Space Station crew and test his skills.
You might say, he has The Right Stuff — even though he’s largely metal, wires and artificial intelligence in humanoid form.
Known as FEDOR, which stands for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the Skybot F-850 is the first humanoid robot to be sent to space by Russia.
NASA sent humanoid robot Robonaut 2 to space in 2011 to work in hazardous environments, but it encountered technical problems and returned to earth.
Japan also sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations — albeit exclusively in Japanese.
“The robot’s main purpose it to be used in operations that are especially dangerous for humans onboard spacecraft and in outer space,” Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Thursday after the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The ISS is a joint project of the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
Travelling in an unmanned Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft, FEDOR is expected to dock at the ISS on Saturday with 1,450 pounds (660 kg) of cargo including medical supplies and food rations for the crew waiting at the station, NASA said.
FEDOR, who stands some one metre and 80 centimetres tall (5-foot-11) and weighs 160 kilograms, and can emulate movements of the human body, has apparently embraced his mission, describing himself as “an assistant to the ISS crew” on his Twitter page, which has 4,600 followers.
“Let’s go. Let’s go,” the robot was heard saying during the launch, repeating the famous phrase used by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.
Twitter posts say FEDOR will learn new skills such as opening a bottle of water in very low gravity, “connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner … to a fire extinguisher.”
It is hoped that FEDOR will eventually carry out such tasks such as spacewalks in the future.