SpaceX Boston Dynamics robot dog named “Zeus” was spotted at the test site of the space agency last week just after the rocket prototype called SN10 exploded just minutes after landing successfully.
The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model.
But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown.
It was the third such landing attempt to end in a fireball after an otherwise successful test flight for the Starship, being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.
After the explosion, SpaceX staff were seen rummaging through the wreckage and debris while collecting data. In videos that have emerged since then, robot dog Zeus was also spotted trotting around the wreckage helping the humans at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
— SPadre (@SpacePadreIsle) March 4, 2021
The robot was designed by Boston Dynamics, which is now owned by Hyundai, and first appeared at SpaceX’s facility in June 2020 when the firm was conducting a cryogenic pressure test on the Starship SN7 dome tank prototype.
The robot, which costs $75,000, is suited for indoor or outdoor use, can map its environment, sense and avoid obstacles, climb stairs and open doors.
It can be charged with sniffing out hydrocarbon leaks, inspecting equipment, taking mechanical readings and completing inspections in areas that might be too dangerous for human workers, which may be why SpaceX unleashed it
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk praised the rocket when it touched down ‘in one piece,’ but returned to Twitter after it exploded saying, ‘RIP SN10, honorable discharge.’