SpaceX ‘Routinely’ Fails Launch, Imposes Media Blackout Causing Firestorm

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/space-flight-news/editorial-commentary-opinion/opinion-spacex-routinely-fails-launch-imposes-media-blackout-creates-firestorm/

Article Credit: spaceflightinsider.com – Jason Rhian – June 22 2014

AdminCadet:  This article (see link above) is an interesting though rather mean spirited opinion piece (and some might say overtly complaining) by spaceflightinsider.com that was discovered by one of our Space Cadet authors.  I would say the use of the word “Firestorm” is a bit of hyperbola too.  But let’s look beyond the tone of the article and discuss the events that led up to this author’s disgruntled statements, which I find more interesting.  Many of us who have worked human space flight for many years know that launch delays are a part of the business and can be mandated by technical concerns, safety issues, weather impacts, or a combination of any or all or more.  However it is true that NASA was very transparent with the press, as mandated by being a government entity.  It appears the press is finding SpaceX’s on again / off again relationship with them frustrating.  A private company, even when funded thru Space Act Agreements, is not required to “tell all” to the press as far as I know.  However Elon Musk in the past has spun the press and public opinion in his favor many times, which helped him to become one of the partners in the Commercial Crew endeavor.  It is somewhat surprising he is not keeping with this policy now when Senator Shelby and other NASA insiders are apparently trying to throw stumbling blocks in CC’s way.

Comments welcome.

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6 thoughts on “SpaceX ‘Routinely’ Fails Launch, Imposes Media Blackout Causing Firestorm

  1. This is not surprising at all. Of course Elon will clamp down on bad press. They want to impress their customers and shareholders. Private corporations want to turn a profit. The way to turn a profit is to stay in business. The way to stay in business is to broadcast the *impression* of success. Stock prices go up, everyone’s happy. Of course, that illusion can’t last forever if you fail to deliver your product. What Elon is discovering is that spaceflight is hard. His hubristic hosts about being able to do everything (to borrow a tired phrase) faster better and cheaper is colliding with the cold unforgiving reality of rocket science.

    Only a few launches ago he darn near blew the vehicle up on the pad from a fuel line fire on the tower. Launch vehicles tend not to like detonations near the outer skin of their pressure vessels. Can you imagine how long Shuttle would have stood down if that happened a few years ago? Elon dismissed it as a little uncontrolled fuel burn. Hah.

    Then he nearly lost a vehicle on ascent when one of his 9 engines blew apart. Again, he dismissed it as a strength of their system that the vehicle could continue to climb to orbit on 8 engines. You just want to go, “Elon, you arrogant fool… redundancy is great, but you are totally missing the point.”

    Then he had an attitude control problem with one of the Dragon capsules and very nearly failed to rendezvous with the Station.

    So while I can’t fault SpaceX for running into difficulties – they will. Everyone does. I do fault them for regularly pooing all over the experts who have been doing this stuff for 50+ years, as if Elon and his minions are so much smarter than everyone else. (An interesting relationship, in his two-faced M.O., he’ll criticize the govt and NASA on the one hand, then when the cameras are off, he’ll turn and hold out his hand like a rocket scientist Oliver Twist begging, “Please sir… Please NASA, may I have some more please??”)

    Reality check Elon… you’re not smarter than everyone else. Call yourself a visionary. What you are is a marketing wiz. You’re a car salesman. AND… you are dancing with fire if you think you can run a rocket business like an airline. Filling your rockets with automotive grade parts may work great on paper by saving money on procurement and testing, but the flight regime is far too unforgiving for that kind of nonsense to hold out in the long run.

    • I would be curious to know if SpaceX started an internal investigation on these incidents. It is important to know what caused these failures, not only how to work around them. Doing the former is performing corrective action investigations to prevent recurrence; the latter is ascertaining remedial action. If you only do remedial and don’t correct what caused the original failure, then the failure can re-occur and maybe with worse consequences the second or third time. Hopefully SpaceX is working toward true Corrective Actions but just not advertising the fact. If not, then yes I think they have the wrong philosophy and this will make it difficult to become certified as a crew transport vehicle down the line. This is an important lesson learned from Shuttle.

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    • No – anyone can copy our comments or opinion pieces. We are fine with that. Please reference our “Rules of Our Site” page under our menu (under the header). This is how we are trying to operate concerning other people’s links and articles. I hope this helps. It is difficult to know how to handle material found on the internet.

      If at any time we use one of your pieces that you do not want us to use, please contact us and we will take it down. We want to always maintain good relations with other sites.

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