26 Jun 2019 15:00

Cosmonauts ask for improving FEDOR humanoid robot before ISS mission

STAR CITY (Moscow region). June 26 (Interfax) - The crew due to set off for the International Space Station (ISS), which trained to operate Russia's FEDOR humanoid robot in orbit, has asked for making some improvements before the robot is sent to the ISS, cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov told the press.

"We have had training. The assignment was unexpected, and we had to accomplish it on the go. As cosmonauts who know about zero gravity, we offered some critique. I'm sure that these small details will be dealt with, interaction with FEDOR will be positive and interesting, and the first pancake won't be botched. You'll see everything on our videos," Skvortsov said on Wednesday, without specifying what the critique was about.

This is the first humanoid robot to help the ISS crew, and that a place has been assigned for it at the station, he said.

Meanwhile, Cosmonaut Training Center head Pavel Vlasov confirmed that the robot experiment will be carried out by the crew, which travels to the ISS on July 20.

"What's new is that the crew will be evaluating and monitoring the possibility of using the first serious robotic system, FEDOR," Vlasov said commenting on the tasks of the next ISS expedition.

Specialists stationed on board the ISS will check the correctness of the robot's design and the possibility of using it as an aide to the ISS crew on long-term missions.

There are no plans to send the robot on a spacewalk, although extravehicular activity is its most desired use, Vlasov said.

"Let's eat the elephant one bite at a time. First and foremost, it [FEDOR] is meant to support the crew on extravehicular missions. It is not easy or quick to move on the station's surface, which is as big as a soccer field. Support can be elementary, such as transportation of a tool, and the range of possible uses is wide," he said.

The ISS is currently manned by Alexander Ovchinin of Russia, and Christina Koch and Nick Hague of the United States.

Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Anne McClain of the United States, and David Saint Jacques of Canada, who arrived at the station on December 3, 2018, returned to the Earth on Tuesday.

A source in the aerospace industry told Interfax earlier that FEDOR's shoulders had to be narrowed to make it fit for the space mission.