SpaceX Close to
Fielding Rocket Robot
March 23, 2017
A photo published on social media reveals Elon Musk’s SpaceX Corporation
is close to fielding a rocket robot.
According to Florida Today newspaper, Stephen Marr got a good view of
the bot sitting on top of a SpaceX drone ship at Port Canaveral,
"I knew there was something different there," Marr, 34, told the paper.
Marr posted the photo on Reddit where it was widely agreed to be a
robot, and users on the site nicknamed it “Optimus Prime,” after a
character from the movie Transformers.
The robot is expected to work on the drone ships, securing the first
stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, which will land on the drone ships,
Florida Today reports. The robot is expected to save the company money
and increase safety.
Lim, of SpaceX, told Florida Today that the robot is in a “testing
phase” as a “future capability.”
“I don’t think it’s very far away” from being used, Lim told the paper.
“But it’s new.”
He added that the robot has
not been officially named.
SpaceX has recovered eight first stages of Falcon 9 rockets, starting in
2015. Three of those stages landed on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, and five times on drone ships at sea.
SpaceX is expecting to launch another rocket from Kennedy Space Center
in coming months. That mission is expected to be the first use of a used
or “flight tested” Falcon 9 rocket.