Dutch robot arm (finally) goes to space

Dutch robot arm (finally) goes to space

It’s about the European Robotic Arm (ERA), a robotic arm that’s best compared to a kind of “sticky stick” that’s more than 11 meters long.

ERA was designed and built by Leiden Dutch Space Company, former Fokker Ruimtevaart. The robot’s arm is made in such a way that it can “walk” along the outside of the International Space Station. Among other things, he has to help with spacewalks.


The boom can lift crew members to their workplace. In addition, the device can take the experiment equipment from the International Space Station as a lever and place it outside in space. ERA can also check the outer surface of the space station for damage. This means that people on board are less vulnerable.

“The arm can also eject objects from the airlock, providing another spacewalk,” Jasper Wamsteker, a spokesperson for the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) explains to RTL Nieuws. “The arm can also move an astronaut somewhere. Compare it to a scaffold you can put on your house when painting.”

from Russia

On July 15, the ERA should be launched from Russia. Initially, the arm was supposed to go to the International Space Station as early as 2002. This did not work. The mission was also canceled in 2007.

Then, Dutch astronaut André Kuipers was to receive the Dutch robotic arm during his mission in 2012 and be the first to use it. Problems with Russian missiles then threw the spanner into the works. Even then, ERA . was launched It has been postponed several more times.

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Proud and excited

Arm makers are “proud and excited” that this finally happened. “It’s not the first Dutch contribution to space,” Wamsteker says. “A lot of Dutch super technology has already been launched into space. The Netherlands has a long history of space travel, especially when it comes to parts from satellites.”

360 million euros

The cost of the arm amounted to 360 million euros, of which the Netherlands paid 235 million euros. A prototype of the arm will be presented today to Secretary of State Mona Keijzer, who is responsible for space travel.

The real robotic arm is already at the Russian launch site, ready for launch into space.

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