Russia launched its first humanoid robot astronaut into the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday. The launch took place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3.38 a.m. (local time), said the Mission Control Centre of the Russian Federal Space Agency. It will reach the station on Saturday.
The robot -- named Fedor (Experimental Demonstration Object Research) -- is the first-ever sent into space by Russia. It is the only commander and crewman onboard the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft.
The humanoid robot is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 160 kg. During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as "connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher," said Alexander Bloshenko, the Russian space agency's Director for prospective programmes and science.
The humanoid robot will be brought inside the ISS for five days of engineering tests. It is expected to return to the Earth on September 6. It is hoped that Fedor will eventually carry out more dangerous tasks such as spacewalks, the BBC reported.
Fedor is not the first robot sent into space. The US sent a robot into space in 2011 with the aim of working in high-risk environments. It was flown back to the Earth in 2018 after suffered technical problems. Japan also sent a robot to the ISS in 2013.