Sept. 5, 2013— -- "Good morning to everyone on Earth."
These are among the first words said by Kirobo today, the world's first talking robot astronaut and Japan's gift to the International Space Station.
Kirobo, a combination of the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot," launched one month ago from Tanegashima Space Center and arrived at the ISS on Aug. 10, along with 3.5 tons of cargo and supplies.
The tiny robot captures the spirit of one of the country's most famous cartoons, Astro Boy. Kirobo speaks with the voice of a young child and gesticulates proudly and enthusiastically. Unlike Astro Boy, Kirobo is only a foot tall and will not save Japan from alien invaders.
But it might help Japan secure the 2020 summer Olympics for Tokyo. As reported by AFP, pictures of Kirobo posing in space and videos of his greetings were included in a presentation before an International Olympic Committee meeting held in Buenos Aires.
In addition to earning cute points with the IOC, Kirobo will be used as a communications experiment when astronaut Koichi Wakata takes over as ISS commander in March.
"Good morning to everyone on Earth."
Kirobo is also smartphone savvy. People on Earth who are wondering where the robot (and by extension the ISS) are in the night sky can download the "Where is KIROBO?" app and then point their phones to the night sky to locate him. For those who want real time updates about Kirobo and his companion robot Mirata can follow @kibo_robo, though you might need to brush up on your Japanese to understand them.