Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dammit, SpaceX

Yet another delay in the SpaceX launch.  The politics driving the privatization of spaceflight have been on my mind for a while, but the last few months of SpaceX flops have started to get under my skin.  To their credit, SpaceX is getting closer to the actual launch window with each iteration before calling things off.  This time, the announcer actually said "Liftoff!" and had to correct himself. 

The repeated failures of the SpaceX vehicle bother me not because I think they demonstrate incompetence.  I'm quite aware that this is an astoundingly complex feat of engineering.  It's literally rocket science.  I don't expect it to go right the first time, and SpaceX was absolutely right to scrub the launch.

What makes me crazy is that we really need SpaceX to get things right.  The shuttles are museum pieces, and without them, America has no way to put a human in orbit.  The best we could muster in a pinch is the X-37B, which is a military mini-shuttle designed to carry surveillance equipment, not passengers.  If there were a catastrophic failure of the Russian program, the last 15 years of work we've put into the International Space Station could easily go out the window.

Come on, SpaceX.  I'm rooting for you, but this is starting to get ridiculous.


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