Chair Force Engineer

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Delay of the Inevitable

The only way to describe today's failure of the Falcon I rocket is an extremely disappointing and heartbreaking setback on mankind's voyage to the stars. I don't want to speculate on any causes for failure, and while is analyzing the available video from the launch, I'll be awaiting the official SpaceX investigation and press release.

I was only able to see the first few seconds of the launch's webcast; it would appear that the massive volume of internet traffic from interested persons crashed SpaceX's servers. Obviously, there was a lot at stake in this launch to create this intense interest. The DoD has invested a lot of effort in helping SpaceX get to this point. Many of NASA's vendors for the Commercial Orbital Transport System (including SpaceX) have planned around the Falcon launchers.

I would have some very difficult choices to make if I was in Elon Musk's shoes. I could sink more millions of dollars in continuing into the unknown with the Falcon. I could just as easily retire from the public eye with my remaining fortune and imitate Hugh Hefner--living in a large mansion with at least seven gold-digger girlfriends. But Elon Musk has made himself clear: he is interested in seeing mankind assume its destiny in the stars, and he's willing to go to exteme lengths to do so.

The failure of Falcon I reminded me of the string of rocket failures in the film of The Right Stuff. In spite of their failures, the community never lost faith, and pressed ahead. Example: the demise of Vanguard was a momentary setback, but it was quickly overshadowed by the success of Jupiter C in launching America's first satellite.

The first Falcon I has been lost, but the road to the stars will always be there, beckoning mankind. We will traverse this road, whether sooner or later. Falcon may yet play its role in starting us on this journey. Regardless of the rockets or the personalities behind these rockets, the inevitable trek through the cosmos will be taken.