Skip to main content

Philisophical Russian-built robot is headed to the International Space Station


The International Space Station is about to get its latest guest — and it’s not human. On Thursday, a Russian humanoid robot will fly to the ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-14 rocket. Originally known as “Fedor,” the robot, which was showcased firing handguns in front of the Russian military, has been renamed Skybot F-850 for its trip into space.

During its weeklong stay on the ISS, Skybot F-850 will be used to “perform several tasks under the control of astronaut Alexander Skvortsov.” According to the Russian space agency Roscosmos, it will also be able to “communicate with the crew” on a wide variety of subjects.

“Skybot F-850 can communicate on any topic,” Alexander Bloshenko, science adviser at Roscosmos, recently told IEEE Spectrum in a short, translated interview. “Before launching the Soyuz, the robot will describe prelaunch preparations, and during the launch and flight he will report the flight parameters and observed events. As the spacecraft enters orbit, the robot will determine the onset of zero gravity. Like a person, Skybot F-850 is [also] very sociable and has a sense of humor. … He can support any topic of conversation, answer a variety of questions — from making introductions, to talking about its creators, and ending with the philosophy of space.”

Посвящается нашему Фёдору @FEDOR37516789 и его предстоящему полёту@roscosmos @tvroscosmos @fpi_russia @glavkosmosJSC

— Дмитрий Рогозин (@Rogozin) August 12, 2019

When he’s not conversing about the “philosophy of space” (which, to my mind, totally makes him sound like the robot version of Marie Kondo), it’s unclear as to exactly which tasks Skybot F-850 will be carrying out on the International Space Station. The most detailed information released notes that it will conduct “tests prepared by Russian engineers to assist astronauts inside the ISS.”

While this could just be a publicity stunt, there are plenty of ways an autonomous robot could be useful on a facility like the ISS. In the North Sea, four-legged robot ANYmal has been tested out for a job inspecting oil rigs. It can travel around autonomously and take measurements and readings. Something similar could conceivably be carried out by a robot like Skybot F-850 in space. Of course, a lot of that depends on how well its upcoming working vacation goes.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
How to watch SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts launch to ISS
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral.

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX are making final preparations for the launch of four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The Crew-4 astronauts were originally supposed to launch on Saturday, April 23, but due to the late departure from the ISS of the Ax-1 mission, the mission won't get underway until Wednesday, April 27, at the earliest.

Read more
Watch how space station astronauts get ready for bed
watch how space station astronauts get ready for bed iss astronaut sleep prep

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer has shared a video showing how he prepares for a night’s sleep aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

As you might expect, the routine is much like it is on Earth -- except for all of the floating around and other challenges caused by the microgravity conditions.

Read more
Axiom-1 to depart from ISS today after extra days in space
The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship is pictured docked to the Harmony module's space-facing international docking adapter.

Update Sunday April 24: The departure of the Axiom-1 mission from the International Space Station has been delayed by one more day due to continuing bad weather. The mission is now scheduled to depart today, Sunday, April 24 at 8:55 p.m. ET.

Four crew members of the first fully private space tourism mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Axiom-1, are set to head home today. The space tourists have gotten several extra days on the ISS for their money, with their departure from the space station being delayed due to bad weather. There have been poor weather conditions in the splashdown zone off the Florida coast, so the departure of the mission was pushed back several times until the weather cleared.

Read more