The European Robotic Arm (ERA) will help space laboratory residents with all kinds of tasks in the years to come, including spacewalks, inspections and science experiments. It can even bypass the outer wall of the ISS.
The 11-meter-long robotic arm was launched last Wednesday from the Baykonur space base in Kazakhstan. The capsule that is to bring the ERA to the ISS suffered engine problems in orbit around the Earth. In addition, the system with which the capsule must dock to the ISS has weakened. For four days it was exciting to know if everything was going to be okay, but it worked. The ship is due to arrive at the ISS with the robotic arm around 3:25 p.m. Dutch time.
ERA is linked to a new Russian extension of the ISS, the Nauka (Science) module.
Work on the ERA began as early as the 1980s, but plans were changed several times and launches were repeatedly delayed. Dutch astronaut André Kuipers was supposed to receive the robot arm in 2012 when he himself lived on the ISS, but that failed.
The development and construction of the arm cost around 360 million euros. The Netherlands contributed around 240 million euros. The prime contractor is the company Airbus Defense and Space from Leiden. This was founded in the 1960s as Fokker Ruimtevaart and later called Dutch Space.
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