SpaceX is in the process of developing Starship in South Texas, at a small village located in Boca Chica Beach. Starship will be a gigantic stainless-steel spacecraft capable of transporting one hundred passengers on long-duration voyages to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The company runs 24/7 operations to develop Starship. A collection of small silver trailers suggest that engineers sleep at the worksite when working long shifts. They are currently developing a production factory of many Starship prototypes that are undergoing a series of tests at a launch pad. The launch pad is about 4 miles down the road from the SpaceX facility Starship assembly site. This week, Boca Chica residents noticed a new addition at the launch pad -a tiny red dog house featuring an inscription that reads, ‘Zeus’.
A South Texas resident who has been documenting the site’s construction progress set up live cameras. The camera captured a blurry video of a SpaceX employee at the Boca Chica launch pad walking around with a robot dog! The footage, shown below, seems to be Spot, a Robo-Dog by Boston Dynamics. The robot has been under development for several years. Last year, the company began leasing the robots out to businesses. This week, Boston Dynamics Spot robots officially went on sale to the general public.
The robot dog ‘Zeus’ can be a useful tool for SpaceX because it features sensors capable of collecting a variety of data. The Boston Dynamics website details several uses for the Spot Robo-Dog. Some of the features that can be useful for SpaceX will likely be: 360° panoramic cameras to keep the launch pad supervised, noise anomaly detection, thermal inspection, and leak detection. It can be used to inspect Starship prototypes during tests. Several Starship prototypes have leaked during cryogenic pressurization tests, causing the entire stainless-steel structure to implode. The robot will be ideal to detect leaks up close, which can otherwise be dangerous for a human to approach and inspect. Though, the exact purpose of the role ‘Zeus’ will have at the SpaceX Boca Chica launch pad has not yet been revealed. The video below previews some of the robot’s capabilities.