Japan's Robot Astronaut, Kirobo, Says Hello From Space

"This is Kirobo. I am the world's first talking robot astronaut. Nice to meet you."

Japan's adorable robot astronaut Kirobo blasted off into space on August 4, and like any good traveler, it's thinking about its friends back on Earth and sending a video postcard from the International Space Station.

"Good morning to everyone on Earth," the high-pitched robot said in Japanese in the recently released video shot August 21. "This is Kirobo. I am the world's first talking robot astronaut. Nice to meet you."

The 13-inch-tall Kirobo was designed as a companion for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will serve as the ISS's first Japanese commander. The robot is capable of natural speaking interactions (but only in Japanese). It will keep records of conversations with the commander and also communicate with another robot on Earth. Developed by Tokyo University, Toyota, ad agency Dentsu, and Robo Garage, Kirobo will stay on the ISS for a year and a half as part of a study of nonhuman companionship for people isolated over long periods.

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