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Russia launches life-size humanoid robot into space

The Skybot F-850

Russia has launched a life-size humanoid robot into space for the first time to carry out tasks considered too dangerous for humans.

The Skybot F-850 started its journey to the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:38 a.m. London time, when it lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft.

The unpiloted spacecraft, which is expected to reach the ISS on Sunday morning London time, was launched using a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket, which it has now separated from.

Known as Fedor, the Skybot was developed by Russia's Androidnaya Technika company and Foundation for Advanced Research Projects on behalf of the Russian state.

Its main purpose is to replace people in dangerous situations, such as spacewalks, with the journey being used to test the rocket's systems under spaceflight conditions.

As well as being used in hazardous areas, the robot will work as an "assistant," supplementing astronauts' duties and carrying out repairs and maintenance work when there is no crew.

The Skybot F-850

Operators can direct Fedor, which is 1.8 meters tall and weighs around 352 pounds, using a computer or control suit, but the machine can also work autonomously.

Russia's space agency said Fedor's journey marks "the first flight of such an unusual astronaut into orbit."

Fedor will stay in orbit for two weeks before returning to earth at the beginning of September.

Soyuz MS-14 will deliver scientific equipment as well as medication, food supplies and packages for crew members to the ISS.