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Japan Sends First Robot to International Space Station

Japan has successfully launched a rocket loaded with supplies for the International Space Station, including a small companion robot for one of the country's astronauts.

Officials at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the H2B rocket, carrying food, water and other supplies, lifted off from the island of Tanegashima early Sunday morning.

Included in the cargo is a small robot named Kirobo, which will serve as a companion for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will join the crew later this year.

The robot, which is 34 centimeters tall, can speak Japanese and is designed to provide emotional support for people isolated for long periods.

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