A robot named Fedor, which stands for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research,was the only “passenger” onboard the Soyuz MS-14 and is on a mission to support the crew and test its skills.
A previous docking had failed due to a faulty component within one of the ISS’s automatic docking ports.
Watch the launch
To resolve the issue, astronauts aboard the ISS got into another Soyuz spacecraft that was attached to a separate port and flew it around the space station in order to free up a fully functioning port for the robot’s capsule to dock.
“Watching in admiration of the agility and cooperation of international space programs to work through the dynamics of human space flight,” tweeted NASA astronaut Christina Koch.
It is not the first robot to be sent into space, but it is arguably the most advanced. In 2011, NASA sent a humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 to carry out tasks that were too dangerous for human astronauts. Japan also sent a miniature humanoid robot in 2013 called Kirobo, which spent 18 months aboard the space station before returning to Earth.
The Fedor robot though is more multi-skilled and versatile, and Roscosmos hopes that it could eventually be used to replace humans on space walks. A video shared by Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin before the launch showed the robot carrying out a variety of tasks, and in one clip it is seen driving a car, before lifting weights and doing press-ups. Worryingly though for some it’s also shown capable of handling and firing weapons, with one part of the video showing Fedor shooting two handguns with deadly accuracy, and frankly, I for one am hoping that that’s one skill it won’t need to use in space.
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