The European Robotic Arm is the first robot that can ‘walk’ around the Russian part of the International Space Station. ERA has a length of over 11 m, and can anchor itself to the Station in multiple locations, moving backwards and forwards around the Russian segment with a large range of motion. Its home base will be the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, also called ‘Nauka’. Astronauts will find in the European Robotic Arm a most valuable ally – it will save them precious time to do other work in space. The crew in space can control ERA from both inside and outside the Space Station, a feature that no other robotic arm has offered before. 100% made-in-Europe, this intelligent robotic arm consists of two end effectors, two wrists, two limbs and one elbow joint together with electronics and cameras. Both ends act as either a ‘hand’ for the robot. Credits ESA
On 21 July 2022, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will head outside the International Space Station on a spacewalk alongside cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. It will be Samantha’s first spacewalk, and the first conducted by a European woman.
Both astronauts will be wearing Orlan spacesuits, with Oleg wearing red stripes and Samantha wearing blue stripes. Sergei Korsakov will provide support to the spacewalkers before they exit the Space Station through the space-facing Poisk module.
The spacewalk, also called an Extravehicular Activity or EVA, will see Samantha and Oleg working together on a number of tasks, including installing platforms and workstation adapter hardware mounted on the Nauka laboratory module.
The spacewalking duo will deploy ten nanosatellites designed to collect radio electronics data during the EVA, and put in place a telescopic boom in place from Zarya to Poisk to assist in future spacewalks.
Working on European Robotic Arm
This will be the third spacewalk to include tasks around getting the European Robotic Arm ready for its first operations on Nauka. The astronauts will move its external control panel, work on insulation and install a temporary adapter point for the robotic arm.
Samantha will spend some time making sure a window shield on the arm’s camera unit is clear enough to allow a laser light to guide the arm for grappling and moving around.
Europe’s robotic arm brings new ways of operating automated machines to the orbital complex. It will be able to perform many tasks automatically or semi-automatically, can be directed either from inside or outside the Station, and it can be controlled directly or programmed in advance.
At ESA’s technical heart, ESTEC in the Netherlands, engineers will be following the spacewalk closely. A European team will be monitoring Samantha’s work on the robotic arm from its mission control.
You can watch the spacewalk live via ESA Web TV. Coverage will begin at 15:30 CEST (14:30 BST) with the EVA itself scheduled to begin at 16:00 CEST (15:00 BST). The spacewalk may last up to seven hours.
Samantha is living and working aboard the Space Station on her second spaceflight mission, Minerva. Learn more about Samantha and the Minerva mission on the dedicated Minerva web page.