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European Robotics Arm is launched into space

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European Robotics Arm is launched into space. The European Robotics Arm is on its way to the International Space Station after being launched on a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, at 16:58 CEST yesterday.

The eleven meter long robotics arm is traveling folded & attached to what will be its home base – the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’.The Proton-M booster placed Nauka & ERA into orbit around Ten minutes after liftoff, nearly Two hundred kilometre above the Earth surface.

The Space Station already has two robotics arms; one is Canadian & second one is Japanese robotics arm which play a crucial role in berthing spacecraft & transferring payloads & astronauts. However,both the Robotics arm can not reach to the Russian segment.

An ERA is the first robot capable of ‘walking around the Russian parts of the orbital complex.It can handle components up to eight thousand kelograms (8000 kg) with five millimetre precision & it will transport astronauts from one working site to another in space missions.

The European Space Agency (ESA) Director of Human & Robotics Exploration David Parker says “The Moving hand-over-hand around the Russian parts of the Station, the European Robotics Arm will bring more freedom, more flexibility & more skills to space operations”.

European Robotics Arm is launched into space
European Robotics Arm is launched into space

He also added “We are giving the Space Station a mid-life upgrade after twenty years in orbit through our Columbus 2030 program – an opportunity to modernize space with a commercial approach”.

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The launch & installation of the European Robotics Arm are a first for Europe & Russia in space. A consortium of twenty two European companies from seven countries built the robot for the European Space Agency (ESA). The long-awaited premiere of this European-made robot follows (14yr) years of perseverance.

Arrival at the space home

It will take Nauka eight days to slowly raise its orbit and catch up with the Space Station. On 29 July at 15:26 CEST, the new module will use its engines to dock automatically to Zvezda at the heart of the Russian segment.

The European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will welcome the robot arm & assist in setting it up. Five spacewalks are planned to get ERA ready & perform its first space operations, some of which will be carried out by ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer & Samantha Cristoforetti.

The crew can control ERA from both inside & outside the Space Station, a feature that no other robotic arm offers. During its first year on the Space Station, ERA’s prime tasks in orbit are to install a large radiator & set up the airlock for Nauka.

Team effort for the future

Together with the international partners, Europe is preparing to extend the life of the Space Station for years to come.

David Parker points out “Our home in space is constantly being improved. Europe’s Columbus lab is getting new science racks, ultra fast data connections & external & internal platforms, commercially provided, for more users.European space agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet has even been helping to upgrade the Station’s power with new solar arrays”.

The symbolic European Russian handshake in space will help demonstrate autonomous & real-time telerobotics operations, key for future missions to the Moon & Mars.

Last but not least, Subscribe to the Robotics India Newsletter for more space and Robotics-Related Updates.

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