Spokesman Vladimir Syromyatnikov said the decision had been taken several years ago when, Russia was going to replace the Mir-2 station with a newer one. But then, Russia joined the ISS programme.
The European robot will assemble and service the Russian ISS segment. It will provide help cosmonauts in fixing solar cells with drives, assembling and servicing payloads, doing work during spacewalks.
With it, Russia and Europe will gain experience in robot-aided operations on the ISS station, Syromyatnikov said.
The only problem, he added, is how to orbit the robot; and became veen more acute with the Columbia catastrophe. Russia and its European partners firmly intend to solve it," Syromyatnikov noted.