Russia launched Thursday its first humanoid robot astronaut to the International Space Station in a critical test flight before crews being riding an upgraded booster in 2020.
The launch took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3.38 am GMT, the Mission Control Center of the Russian Federal Space Agency said.
FEDOR, standing for the Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, is the only commander and crewman onboard the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft.
It is the first time a Soyuz spacecraft will be launched using the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket.
Only one launch using that carrier rocket has failed out of 34 in total.
FEDOR’s only mission is to assess the security systems of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket.
The humanoid robot will be brought inside the ISS for five days of engineering tests.
It is expected to return to the Earth on Sept. 6.
begin riding an upgraded Soyuz booster next year.
Skybot F-850, which is named “Fyodor” in local media, measures 180 cm and weighs 160 kg.
Initially, it was developed upon the request of Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations as a rescue robot to evacuate people affected by landslides, fires, as well as chemical and radioactive contamination.
That is why the robot, which was called “Avatar” at that time, was taught to go up and downstairs, drive vehicles and use different types of tools, according to footage shared by its developers.
In 2016 it was decided that “Fyodor” would be sent to space as a “test pilot” of the “Federation”, a new Russian-made piloted spacecraft that was initially set to launch in 2021 but the release date was then delayed to 2022.
According to state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti, FEDOR will not only test “Federation," but also will make an around-the-Moon flight.
FEDOR’s mission on the board of Soyuz MS-14 will include transmitting images from inside the ship and to frequently report on how its systems operate.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, usually uses the analog Soyuz-FG carrier rocket for launches, but it has decided to replace it with Soyuz-2.1a that uses a Russian-designed digital system.
The last launch of a Russian-manned ship with a Soyuz-FG rocket is scheduled for September 25.
FEDOR’s mission in space is expected to last over 17 days, 14 of which will be onboard the ISS, where it will meet the astronauts Aleksey Ovchinin and Aleksandr Skvortsov from Russia, Andrew Morgan, Nick Hague and Christina Koch from the United States, and Italy’s Luca Parmitano from the European Space Agency.
The International Space Station, a project of more than $150 billion in which 16 nations participate, is currently made up of 15 permanent modules and orbits the Earth at a distance of 400 kilometers and a speed of more than 27,000 kilometers per hour. EFE-EPA