NASA is enlisting the help of a giant robot to build the largest lightweight composite rocket parts ever developed. The parts will be used for future space vehicles that will go on deep manned missions including trips to explore Mars.

It's crucial that rocket parts be as lightweight as possible because the less they weigh, the more payload - crew, science instruments, food, equipment, and habitats - the rocket can carry into space, NASA said. 

 "The robot will build structures larger than 8 meters, or 26 feet, in diameter, some of the largest composite structures ever constructed for space vehicles," said Justin Jackson, the engineer who installed the robot and who helped build one of the largest composite rocket fuel tanks ever made.

Facts about: the giant robot

 To make the large composite structures, the robot travels on a track and has a 21-foot robot arm.

 The head at the end of the arm can hold up to 16 spools of carbon fibers that are as thin as human hairs.

 The robot places the fibers onto a tooling surface in precise patterns to create the forms for different shapes and sizes.

 Cover image: Pixabay