Rocket Lab's 'Rosie' Helps Build a Launch Vehicle Every 20 Days

The robot prepares one Electron rocket for the next stage of production every 12 hours.
Chris Young

Rocket Lab, the California-based company that can retrieve first-stage rockets with helicopters, has given us a glimpse of Rosie the rocket-building robot, a machine that enables it to build an entire rocket in only 20 days. 

The company, which launches small satellites into low-Earth orbit and was recently awarded a contract by NASA for two orbital martian spacecraft, posted a video on Twitter showing Rosie the robot in action.

Rosie the robot went into operation about 18 months ago, and alongside its other manufacturing processes, it allows the company to manufacture one launch-ready Electron rocket roughly every 20 days.

Another California-based rocket firm, Relativity Space, fully 3D prints its rockets using a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing method and it can build an entire rocket in approximately 60 days.

Building rockets 'so much faster' than before

As a report by DigitalTrends points out, Rosie the robot takes up an entire room as it processes the carbon composite components of the company's Electron rocket, before passing it onto the next stage of production.

As Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says, Rosie allows Rocket Lab to create a launch vehicle "so much faster" than before — the robot marks, drills, and performs other tasks, allowing Rocket Lab to prepare one launch vehicle for the next stage of production every 12 hours.

Rocket Lab's most recent mission, which took place in May, unfortunately ended in failure, with an anomaly causing the second stage of the Electron rocket to fail to reach orbit. The company says it is investigating the cause of the anomaly.

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Rocket Lab, which launched 10 missions over the last 18 months, has only had three of its total of 20 missions since 2017 end in failure.

The company is also building the Photon platform, which it bills as a relatively cheap method for interplanetary exploration. The firm was recently granted a contract by NASA to send two Photon spacecraft to Mars to study the planet's environment.

The New Zealand-founded firm also announced its larger, reusable Neutron launch rocket in March this year, a competitor to SpaceX's Falcon 9, which will also have the capacity to carry humans to space.

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