Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying humanoid robot aborts space station docking after failure

A handout photo taken on Aug 22 shows the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft containing a humanoid robot lifting off from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A handout photo taken on Aug 22 shows the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft containing a humanoid robot lifting off from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (DPA, AFP) - An unmanned Russian spacecraft containing a humanoid robot named Fedor has failed to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) as scheduled on Saturday (Aug 24).

The docking had been set for around 0530 GMT after a two-day flight and 34 orbits around the Earth.

Nasa said that the automated approach was aborted after "the craft was unable to lock onto its target" at the space station and that Russian flight controllers were assessing the next steps.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft was launched from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday (Aug 22) on a flight to test out a new booster rocket.

In addition to putting Fedor in space, the non-human flight was designed to test the new rocket's upgraded flight and engine systems before possible manned missions to the space station using the rocket next year.

TASS news agency quoted the head of the Russian side of ISS, Mr Vladimir Soloviov saying “telemetry analysis showed there were failings with radio equipment” on the station.

“It can be corrected,” he said, adding that part of the equipment would be replaced and another attempt at docking made between 0500 GMT and 0600 GMT on Monday.

The ISS, used to conduct experiments that could be impossible on Earth, is mostly a collaboration of Russian and US crews and represents one of the strongest ties between the rival great powers.

The robot, Skybot F-850, also known by the male Russian name Fedor, is designed to conduct operations that would be "especially dangerous for a human", Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.



The robot, Skybot F-850, also known by the male Russian name Fedor, is designed to conduct operations that would be "especially dangerous for a human. PHOTO: AFP

Following the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Fedor sent out a post on Twitter saying all systems were in order.

The head of Roscosmos, Mr Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted to Fedor to congratulate it for successfully beginning its work. Fedor replied with a saying typical of Russia's prided Soviet space programme: "Thank you, comrade."