SpaceX investigates Starship blast site using a robot

Shane McGlaun - Mar 6, 2021, 9:36am CST
SpaceX investigates Starship blast site using a robot

SpaceX is certainly no stranger to missions that don’t go as planned. While getting the Falcon 9 ready for prime time, the company certainly suffered some rocket losses. Currently, SpaceX has the same mixed luck with its new Starship. The most recent mission saw Starship SN10 pulling off its flight and landing flawlessly. However, minutes after landing, the rocket unexpectedly exploded.

SpaceX has now reportedly brought in a robot in the form of a Boston Dynamics robot dog called Zeus. The robot is a yellow four-legged machine that has been seen moving around the Texas SpaceX facility, inspecting the remains of the exploded rocket. So far, there’s no clear indication of what exactly led the rocket to explode after its soft landing.

Speculation suggests that the landing legs could be to blame for the explosion. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted immediately after landing that the rocket had touched down “in one piece.” After the rocket exploded, he went back to Twitter and posted “RIP SN10, Honorable discharge.” Musk has never been one to shy away from sharing the causes of failed tests or missions.

Presumably, once SpaceX has a clear indication of what caused the rocket to explode, that information will be shared. The starship prototype rocket’s mission was to gather data on controls for the rocket during reentry, and out of three tests so far, it was the only one to land successfully. Some are seeing the mission as a success thanks to its landing despite it exploding later.

It’s interesting that Zeus is on the case. Patrolling potentially hazardous sites is exactly what Boston Dynamics designed the robot for. Its presence shows that SpaceX is taking the unknown source of the explosion seriously. Each of the robots costs about $70,000, and it has been seen in use at the SpaceX Texas facility before.


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