Dutch robot arm heading into space after 35 years

AMSTERDAM - The European Robotic Arm (ERA), built by the Leiden company Dutch Space, is making a trip to the International Space Station after 35 years of development. The ERA is set to be launched from Russia on July 15. The arm was originally supposed to go to the ISS as early as 2002 and was postponed numerous times later on.

The arm has the ability to carry crew members to their assigned positions. Furthermore, the device can take equipment from the ISS and deploy it outside while in orbit, much like a crane. The ERA can also be used to inspect the exterior of the space station for damage. 

"The arm can also move stuff out of the airlock, which saves another spacewalk," said Jasper Wamsteker, spokesperson for the Netherlands Space Office (NSO). "The arm can also move an astronaut somewhere. Compare it to a scaffold that you can put against your house when painting."

The arm cost 360 million euros, of which the Netherlands contributed 235 million euros.

"It is not the first Dutch contribution to space. A lot of Dutch high tech has already been launched into space. The Netherlands has quite a long history of space travel, especially when it comes to parts of satellites," said Wamsteker.

State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Mona Keijzer, was presented with a prototype of the arm on Monday, RTL Nieuws reported.

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