Spaceheads

We Aren’t Always Perfect

Yesterday I mentioned Little Joe had 8 launches, and 6 of those were successful. You are good with the maths, you realize that means 2 were not. Well, in the early days of rocketry, all the way into the 1950s, launching rockets was almost a crap shoot. We were learning, and that means we were making lots of mistakes. That was the reason for Little Joe and for all the testing that went on — and goes on today — for each rocket program. The more you test the more weak links you find and eventually you should have a robust rocket system. This is why today’s rockets, many of which were designed decades ago, are regarded as reliable. This is why new rocket programs, like the Falcon 9 from SpaceX, are exciting.

Engineers, despite what the movies say, invite failure. Failure is a learning experience. Figuring out why something failed and fixing it is one of the few ways to make something better. Failure is an option.

Hit the jump for some spectacular early rocket failures.

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13qeX98tAS8[/youtube]

[Image Credit: NASA]

  • CaptianNemo2001

    But with all of these new fluid dynamic's simulations and computers these things should only ever fail due to human error (you cant get rid of it says NASA) and impurity's in metal parts causing failure.

    • B72

      And impurities in simulations…

    • skitter

      In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice.
      In practice, there is.

    • CFD and any other calculation is full of assumptions. For things like fluid flow through a pipe, we can make assumptions knowing they are reasonable and get really close. For more complex systems, however, your assumptions can have a cumulative error affect and things go boom.

      There is a reason why even though the 777 was heavily designed by CFD they still had to go out and fly the plane and fix things.

  • skitter

    At 3.00 minutes: Best roman candle EVER.

  • erikotis75

    Those crazy Danes of the Copenhagen Suborbitals are definitely learning right now, and I for one can't wait until they have it figured out. Pretty impressive what they are doing.

    <img src="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/wp-content/gallery/copenhagen-launch-escape-system/launch-escape-system-separation-copenhagen-suborbitals.jpg"&gt;

    • CaptianNemo2001

      Your going the WRONG WAY!!! TURN BACK NOW!!!

      • Plecostomus

        STAR TOURS? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? This is a combat zone, it's restricted.

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