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Talking humanoid claims giant leap for robots as Japanese rocket blasts off for space station

Japan's space agency says the first talking humanoid robot "astronaut" has taken off in a rocket.

Kirobo — derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot" — was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday for the International Space Station from Tanegashima, southwestern Japan.

Developers say the childlike robot will be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth.

Robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi, of the University of Tokyo, advertiser Dentsu and automaker Toyota Motor Corp. worked on the robot.

The challenge was making sure it can move and talk where there is no gravity.

Ahead of the launch, the 34-centimeter (13-inch) tall Kirobo told reporters, "one small step for me, a giant leap for robots."