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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

SpaceX Loss of Falcon 9 Rocket a Serious Setback

Falcon 9. Photo courtesy of SpaceX
On June 28, 2015, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifting an unmanned Dragon capsule full of supplies and new equipment to the International Space Station exploded after the first stage separated. It is a serious setback for a company that was running with the commercial partnership with NASA. Here is what SpaceX was saying at the time of this writing: http://www.spacex.com/news/2015/06/28/crs-7-launch-update

The reaction by Erin Sharoni, writing an opinion piece for Time is typical: http://time.com/3946434/spacex-rocket-explosion/ The disappointment and worry are there, they are appropriate, but the big picture has to continue to be considered. Spaceflight is extremely difficult. Our worst disasters have occurred when we have felt otherwise, conning ourselves into believing it has become routine and the sci-fi future has arrived. If ever space travel is to become routine, that day is a very long way off ... although not taken further away by this mishap. We build on these mistakes. We learn from then and design new and better equipment. We can be grateful that no one died in this explosion.

Here's hoping the men and women of SpaceX bounce back soon, providing a better Falcon 9 for the future when this particular fault is corrected.

One final word: a major news network put out a one minute thirty-six second report shortly after the explosion that showed a disturbing lack of understanding on the part of the reporter. I will not name the network. Instead, may all reporters and editors learn a little something in the limited time you have on the subjects you cover. Never again do I want to see someone equate that explosion on liftoff with explosions of first stages attempting a new and experimental landing technique. They are in no way the same thing and should never be link. That was not the only error in that short clip. As someone who grew up with a parent who covered science news for a living, I know what I'm talking about. There is a lot of material provided before a launch. At least review it before you speak so you don't come off sounding so incredibly ignorant.

Buzz Aldrin weighed in on this explosion as well, and what he has to say is worth a look: http://time.com/3945033/buzz-aldrin-spacex-commercial-space-travel/

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