Kirobo makes history as first robot astronaut to speak in space

Robot astronaut Kirobo has become the first robot ever to speak in space. The historic first words in space reflected the importance of Kirobo's 18-month long mission: "On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step towards a brighter future for all."

Kirobo's space mission started in the early hours of August 4 with the successful launch of H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 4 from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. Sitting on top of the launch vehicle was Kounotori 4, a Japanese cargo vehicle containing the 34cm robot. After six days in orbit, Kounotori 4 was expertly plucked from space by the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) using the station's robotic arm.

Later this year, between November and December, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata will arrive on Expedition 38 to become the first Japanese astronaut to assume command of the orbiting space station. Once on-board, at an orbiting altitude of some 400km about Earth, Commander Wakata will take part in the first-ever conversation held between a human being and robot in space. The planned conversation will take place in the Japanese Experiment Module, nicknamed "Kibo" after the word for "hope" in Japanese.

Kirobo and his earth-bound mission counterpart, Mirata, are two humanoid communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Proejct, a joint research project between Dentsu Inc., University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage Co., and Toyota Motor Corporation. The project is also extensively assisted by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Toyota Motor Corporation provided the robot's voice recognition software. The company plans to use experience gained from the orbital experiments to improve its Partner Robots and other interactive conversation technology.

Watch the full launch and Kirobo's first words in space:

For more information, visit the Kibo Robot Project website:

Provisional Mission Timeline (updated)

Aug 4, 2013

Robot astronaut Kirobo leaves for the ISS

Aug 21, 2013

Kirobo speaks for the first time in space

Nov-Dec, 2013

Commander Wakata arrives at the ISS

Nov-Dec, 2013

Commander Wakata and Kirobo have their first conversation

May-Jun, 2014

Commander Wakata leaves the ISS

Dec, 2014 (or later)

Kirobo returns to Earth