Russia has launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend ten days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.

Named Fedor - for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research - the robot is the humanoid one sent to the ISS by Russia.

Fedor blasted off in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft this morning from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz is set to dock with the space station on Saturday and stay until 7 September.

Soyuz rockets are normally manned on such trips, but no humans are travelling on this launch in order to test a new emergency rescue system.

Fedor stands at 1.80m (5'11) tall and weighs 160kg

Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor, also known as Skybot F850, was strapped into a specially adapted pilot's seat, with a small Russian flag in his hand.

"Let's go. Let's go," the robot was heard saying during the launch, repeating the famous phrase by the first man in space, Yury Gagarin.

The silvery anthropomorphic robot stands at 1.80m tall and weighs 160kg.

Fedor has Instagram and Twitter accounts that describe it as learning new skills such as opening a bottle of water. While on the ISS, it will trial those manual skills in very low gravity.

"That's connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher," the Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said ahead of the launch.

"The first stage of in-flight experiments went according to the flight plan," the robot's account tweeted after reaching orbit.

Fedor copies human movements, a key skill that allows it to remotely help astronauts or even people on Earth carry out tasks while they are strapped into an exoskeleton.

Fedor is not the first robot in space. Robonaut 2 (above) was sent to space by NASA in 2011

Such robots will eventually carry out dangerous operations such as space walks, Mr Bloshenko told RIA Novosti state news agency.

On the website of one of the state backers of the project, the Foundation of Advanced Research Projects, Fedor is described as potentially useful on Earth for working in high radiation environments, de-mining and tricky rescue missions.

The robot will perform tasks supervised by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, who joined the ISS last month, and will wear an exoskeleton in a series of experiments scheduled for later this month.

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin showed pictures of the robot to President Vladimir Putin this month, saying it will be "an assistant to the crew".

Japan's small humanoid Kirobo was sent into space to provide conversational company

"In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space," he added.

Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.

In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors and a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.

It was flown back to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.

In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS's first Japanese space commander.

Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations - albeit only in Japanese.