Russian space officials confirm that they will be sending a humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS) next week.
“We can officially confirm, that according to the planned flight schedule to the ISS, FEDOR humanoid robot is preliminary [sic] scheduled to fly to the ISS on August 22 aboard Soyuz MS-14 carried by the Soyuz 2.1a carrier rocket,” Oleg Bolashev from the Russian space agency Roscosmos told IFLScience in an email.
Unveiled test footage shows the Skybot F-850 in a simulation depicting how it will travel to space in crewless mode via the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft delivered by the nation’s first attempt at utilizing Soyuz-2.1a carrier. After docking the Soyuz with the ISS, Skybot F-850 will be transferred from the ship to the Russian segment of the station where it will be met by cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov who was specially trained to handle the robot, said the Russian Federal Space Agency in an online statement.
“It will be a unique flight because for the first time the robot will sit in the seat of the ship’s commander and not in the cargo compartment,” wrote the agency.
Skybot F-850 is a more advanced version of the 2016 Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, or FEDOR for short, and features updated materials and control system. Made famous two years ago for its capability to aim and shoot guns at targets in addition to using tools and driving a car, the bot is able to perform an “independent mode” and uses elements of artificial intelligence to maintain equilibrium and locomotor functions, as well as an “avatar mode” that is under the “full remote control of the operator.” It can also communicate and will record events throughout the launch and during its time aboard the ISS.
Control of the robot was given to Roscosmos in April of this year in order for Russia’s space programs to conduct its “preparatory stage” of one day bringing humans to the surface of the Moon in what Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, called "the space-designated anthropomorphous system,” reported Russian news agency TASS. Skybot F-850 was anticipated to only stay for a week and a half aboard the station but its return has since been extended four days for a return to Earth on September 7. Most recently, the humanoid was delivered to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for pre-flight preparations