A WWII tribute has arrived at the ISS – and it could help Boeing take on SpaceX


Do you remember Rosie the Riveter? She was a famous icon of World War II feminist recruitment and campaigning.

Now she’s been repurposed for spaceflight as Rosie the Rocketeer, a dummy astronaut who took to the skies this week in the commander’s seat of Boeing’s Starliner, the astronaut taxi, for Orbital Flight Test-2, a mission uncrew launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.

Its goal ?

To certify Starliner for manned spaceflight and possibly beat SpaceX for a crewed flight to the ISS.

This isn’t Rosie’s first flight with Boeing. She took flight in June 2021 and provided crucial data on her journey.

“This is a 180-pound European tan test device that is believed to represent the 50th percentile of human dimensions in height and weight,” said in a statement at the time Melanie Weber, head of the sub- system for Crew and Cargo Accommodation on the Commercial Crew Program. “Rosie’s first flight provided hundreds of data points about what astronauts will experience during the flight, but this time she will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity during ascent, docking, undocking and landing.”

“Even the car you’re driving has to maintain its center of gravity or it could tip over,” Weber added.

She also served as an icon for women in space at the time.

“Women in aerospace have made great strides and hopefully Rosie will inspire more to enter the industry,” Weber said. “It is absolutely important to include all people in this field to ensure that our services and products are suitable for all people. We only become stronger when we have diverse perspectives.

When did Rosie first appear?

The US Department of Labor sheds light on its history.

The “Rosie” image, which was popular during the war, was created by illustrator Norman Rockwell (who had most certainly heard the song “Rosie the Riveter”) for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943 – the Memorial Day Publish. The image depicts a muscular woman wearing overalls, glasses and honor pins on her lapel. It features a leather strap and rolled up sleeves. She’s sitting with a riveting tool in her lap, eating a sandwich, and ‘Rosie’ is written on her lunch pail,” the Department of Labor said in an article about Rosie.

Soon the idea caught on and newspapers around the world began to publish real stories of women working in male-dominated industries due to labor shortages caused by the war.

“The government took advantage of the popularity of Rosie the Riveter and embarked on a recruitment campaign of the same name. The campaign brought millions of women out of their homes and into the workforce. To date , Rosie the Riveter is still considered the most successful government advertising campaign in history,” the Department of Labor added.

It’s nice to see such a popular feminist icon being recycled for useful purposes. This opens up many possibilities for Rosie and for women in general. Where could we see Rosie next? Only our imagination is the limit.


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