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Old May 10 2014, 10:06 PM   #68
YellowSubmarine
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Re: SpaceX's Grasshopper

I am not sure if my intent was to take a piss, I was kinda being serious (except for the cheese and exaggeration, obviously). When something doesn't go smoothly at SpaceX or they suffer a setback of any kind, I am genuinely excited for the way it often happens, or the reason the setback happened. Problems end up being a technological demonstration, what would have been a disaster end up being no big deal for F9, and there are surprises every time.

But then I am messed up that way, I also think that Apollo 13 did more for manned spaceflight than a successful Apollo 13 would have, in terms of demonstrating a number of space firsts that are crucial if we intend to seriously go into space – surviving engine failures, re-purposing spacecraft, improvising spaceflight plans, manufacturing necessities in space, rescuing astronauts (not technically a rescue, but still), course corrections by hand, and last but not least, giving assurance to humanity that space is possible even in the light of a disaster that one would expect to be deadly.

So how gracefully you handle a failure is a very important test on how well-suited our technology is for something so dangerous. I am very sentimental to that. And the (albeit minor) problems that SpaceX had are only reassuring. One would expect that the engine failure a second before lift off would have costed them the rocket, but a fault-tolerant design saved the day. It's little things like that.

(And I also like Elon's tendencies to go against common practises or to take wild risk, but that's starting too sound too much like hero worship. )
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