Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 18:14 UK

Japan robot arm unfolded on ISS

The Japanese Kibo lab is moved from the space shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay for installation on the International Space Station, 3 June 2008
'Kibo' means 'hope' in Japanese
Lab being assembled in three parts
Main section is 11.2m long, 14.8t
Storage facility already in orbit
Exterior terrace to follow next year
Will do bio and materials science
Microgravity provides new insights

A Japanese-built robotic arm has been unfolded on the International Space Station (ISS).

The 10m-long (33ft) crane is part of the Kibo laboratory, which was built in Japan and installed aboard the ISS during the latest shuttle mission.

Next year, Nasa plans to launch an outdoor platform with telescopes and experiments that will extend Kibo.

The robot arm will be used to tend that equipment, saving the time, cost and risk of spacewalks by astronauts.

The arm was unfurled by Japanese shuttle astronaut Akihiko Hoshide on Monday.

"Good job," Japan's new mission control centre told Mr Hoshide, as he unfurled the arm for the first time from a control station inside Kibo.

The shuttle Discovery is approaching the end of its nine-day stay at the space station. Hatches connecting the ISS to the shuttle are due to be closed off on Tueday, with departure scheduled for Wednesday.

On Sunday, astronauts Michael Fossum and Ronald Garan completed the mission's third and final spacewalk on the orbiting outpost, replacing an empty gas tank and collecting a sample of dusty debris from a rotating joint on one of the station's solar panel units.

Nasa is hoping the debris will give it clues about why another joint is malfunctioning.

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