The new European robotic arm ERA (European Robotic Arm) for the International Space Station (ISS) has been launched on a Proton rocket from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan: 11 meters long, it will be the first robot capable of moving around Russian units of the orbital complex, to handle components that Weighing up to 8000 kilograms with an accuracy of 5 millimeters, it transports astronauts from one job to another. Five spacewalks will be required to prepare ERA for its first activities, some of which will be carried out by astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The International Space Station is already equipped with two robotic arms: the Canadian and the Japanese, which play an important role in docking spacecraft, transporting payloads and astronauts. However, no arm could reach the Russian part. This is why “The ERA robotic arm will ensure greater freedom, flexibility and capacity for space activities,” comments David Parker, Director of Human Exploration and Robotics at the European Space Agency.
The launch and installation of ERA sets a precedent for Europe and Russia in space. The European Space Agency (ESA) has entrusted a consortium of 22 European companies from seven countries to build the first robot made in Europe, as a result of a 14-year commitment.
After launch, the ERA will travel folded and attached to what will be its main base, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (also called Nauka??), which will take eight days to raise its orbit and reach the space station. On July 29, the new unit will use its engines to automatically dock at Zvezda in the heart of the Russian part. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will welcome the robotic arm and arrange for the five spacewalks to be precisely tuned.
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