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Rocket Lab shows off Rosie, its rocket-building robot

Rocket Lab has shown off its Rosie robot that can prepare a rocket for production in just 12 hours.

The company, which competes with the likes of SpaceX and Virgin Orbit to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit, posted a video on Twitter this week showing Rosie hard at work.

How do we churn out a new Electron every 20 days? Rosie the rocket building robot is always on the job. pic.twitter.com/jOK8niI0mi

— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) July 6, 2021

According to Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck, the “absolutely massive” robot — it takes up an entire room — processes the carbon composite components of the company’s workhorse Electron rocket in preparation for the next stage of production.

Rosie enables Rocket Lab to create a launch vehicle “so much faster” than before.

Rosie does all of the necessary marking, machining, and drilling, among other tasks, allowing Rocket Lab to prepare one launch vehicle every 12 hours before it’s sent to the production line for further work.

“Traditionally you talk about rocket manufacturing in years, then you start talking about it in months, then weeks,” Beck said in an earlier video about Rosie, adding, “Well, we talk about it in days. Raw materials come in [and a] rocket comes out in a matter of hours.”

Rosie the rocket-building robot actually started work about 18 months ago, but we’ve not heard much about it since then. However, this week Rocket Lab decided to put Rosie back in the spotlight as it continues to churn out Electron rockets for future launches.

Although Rocket Lab is able to manufacture a rocket every 20 days or so, its launch frequency is yet to match, with the company managing 10 missions in the last 18 months.

Its most recent mission took place in May this year, but the second stage of the Electron rocket failed to reach orbit, resulting in the loss of two commercial satellites. But it should be noted that of Rocket Lab’s 20 rocket launches since its first one in 2017, 17 have been successful with only three ending in failure. The company plans to increase its launch frequency in the coming years.

Earlier this year Rocket Lab announced it’s building a more powerful and more advanced rocket, called Neutron. The 40-meter-tall rocket will be the company’s first vehicle capable of carrying humans to space, and will also be used for satellite deployment and possibly even interplanetary missions.

Beck himself also hit the headlines earlier this year when he literally ate his hat after his company started exploring ways to reuse rockets, something he once said Rocket Lab would never do.

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Trevor Mogg
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