The android took off from the island of Tanegashima in an unmanned rocket also carrying supplies for crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Measuring 34cm (13 inches), Kirobo is due to arrive at the ISS on 9 August.

It is part of a study to see how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.

The launch of the H-2B rocket was broadcast online by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).