Space Robot Designed As Companion For Japanese Astronaut

Japan has launched a humanoid robot bound for the International Space Station to keep one of its astronauts company.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Iron Man suit hasn't taken off yet, but Kirobo has already left for space.

KIROBO: (Foreign language spoken)

CORNISH: Kirobo is meant to be a companion for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. It will also be able to communicate with another robot back on Earth, presumably if Kirobo and Wakata run out of things to talk about. Before the launch, Kirobo told reporters: One small step for me, a giant leap for robots. Well, for mankind's sake, we just hope Kirobo's personality is like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WALL-E")

BEN BURT: (as Wall-E) Wall-E.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) Wall-E.

CORNISH: And not this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY")

KEIR DULLEA: (as Dr. Dave Bowman) Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

DOUGLAS RAIN: (as HAL) I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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