Fail On, SpaceX / by Scott Lindrup

Who doesn’t dream of owning their own spaceship company? I mean, seriously, Elon Musk, you’re basically trolling every kid who grew up reading Asimov and worshiping Star Wars. You made billions in the internet boom and then, instead of going all wolf-of-wall-street, you decided it would be more fun to build the best electric car and, oh yeah, build spaceships. I’m totally jealous.

SpaceX is a different kind of spaceship company. That’s not to say there are all that many to compare but one trend that I hope the other companies will pick up is the ridiculous transparency of SpaceX. We get to live stream their launches, including their failures, and then Musk happily tweets what happened and how they plan to fix it.

I love that they boldly and proudly fail. Building spaceships is hard and we are approaching the time when the general public, well the ridiculously wealthy general public, will become participants in the spaceflight economy. Secrecy does not breed trust and trust is a necessary component for commercial spaceflight. 

Watching a Falcon 9 successfully launch, deliver it’s payload to the ISS, and then fail spectacularly when it tries to land itself on a barge floating in the middle of the ocean is a thrilling thing. It may seem counterintuitive that this builds trust but I think it’s a pretty great strategy. 

Make no mistake, SpaceX needs a nearly flawless safety record to continue to grow, but it really doesn’t risk much to put everything they do out into the public. If they fail, it’s going to be out there. If they succeed, and they succeed a lot more than they fail, that will be out there as well, answering every misstep with glorious HD success. I can almost guarantee that the first successful recovery of the Falcon 9 will garner significantly more attention than their failures and that’s precisely because we’ve been able to see those failures. 

So, Mr. Musk, keeps those videos coming and keep tweet trolling all us jealous nerds. I’m emotionally invested and, as much as I like all the explody goodness of the Falcon 9 falling over, I’m even more geeked to see that baby standing proudly as the smoke clears.