A new robot will help astronauts on the ISS

The European Robotic Arm (ERA) will fly to the orbital outpost on July 15 together with the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also known as Nauka. With two decades of development, the arm was built by a consortium of European companies led by Airbus, which then assembled the robot at its facilities in the Netherlands.

The robot resembles a pair of compasses with two symmetrical arms, each a little over 5 meters long. Fitted with a dexterous hand at the end of each arm, ERA will be able to move freely outside of the space station, attaching itself wherever it’s needed. Weighing only 630 kilograms, due to its lightweight aluminum and carbon-fiber structure, the arm will be able to move and install components up to 8,000 kg in weight while being able to reach targets with 5 millimeter precision. It could also transport astronauts and cosmonauts from one working site to another.

Astronauts and cosmonauts will be able to either control the arm in real time from inside the space station or pre-program it to carry out tasks autonomously. Moreover, fitted with an infrared camera, ERA will be able to inspect the space station’s structure and components and stream its view to the astronauts and cosmonauts inside the orbiting lab.  

For more information, visit: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2021/07/European_Robotic_Arm_ready_for_space