SpaceX and their Falcon 9 rocket has officially failed. The rocket broke up shortly after launch and yet again, serves as a reminder that there isn’t any full-proof method for contending with space. After the failure, Elon Musk, the brainpower behind Tesla, SpaceX, and several other aggressive technological ventures said in a tweet that, “Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.”
The goal of the mission was to bring several tons of supplies up to the International Space Station, which has already experienced significant delays due to failures which predated this one. Many though, argue that this is exactly why private companies should not be working on such projects. This failure doesn’t mean that those at the International Space Station are going to die, or run out of oxygen or food. Despite the fact that this launch contained both of those things, the individuals aboard the International Space Station will be fine.
However, this does bring some interesting concerns to light about the future of space travel as a whole. Many believe that this isn’t something that private companies should be working on, and with the recent failures that have been experienced – that argument is looking more and more legitimate by the day.
Space programs as a whole though need funding. The funding they need they simply are not getting, and this is where the big concern sits. People are worried about the financial stability of these projects and missions. Moving forward, it’s unclear how these projects will be funded, as federal governments are forced to cut back in the way that the U.S. government has over the last two decades with NASA.
This is the time when alternatives need to be engineered. We cannot dwell on the failure of one, or two missions, because as Scott Kelley pointed out, who is a NASA astronaut at the International Space Station, “space is hard.”
Those were simple words for what was obviously a complex set of issues, which will take weeks and weeks to determine a root cause of the failure. However, the failure is a reflection of how challenging the overall process is, and not how bad we are at rocket science. Rocket science is by far amongst the most challenging stuff we have to contend with here on Earth, so to expect zero failure is not at all realistic.
Moving forward, there are a lot of positives to be taken from this. Most notably, the fact that there is another supply launch expected to go up on Friday, according to the scheduling. Thankfully, as many have pointed out there is a lot of contingency built into these plans, due to how little it could take to theoretically derail one particular mission. This is just one example of how much innovation and effort we still need in the world of space aviation.
However, there is something to be said for those who feel like we are now spending a big amount of money on programs or missions, which ultimately end in failure. Especially when we have the economic issues that exist here on Earth. This is most notably the exact reason why federal governments, like the U.S. have gotten out of the space travel business, and allowed companies like SpaceX to take over building the crafts used to make trips through space.