Learning From Failure

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I have a fascination with watching launch failures. When The Professor sent me a link to this video on Universe Today I watched all 32 minutes. It’s fascinating in that “watching a train wreck” way that us humans are so enamored with, but also in a professional way. You see, I watch these failures and all I can think is that the scientists, engineers and technicians watching learned something. Whether it was from telemetry or just watching film footage, they would have tried to pinpoint what went wrong and fix it. It also fascinates me that with 70 years of designing, building and launching rockets that we still have trouble from time to time.

  • sawer-massey

    Yeah, yeah train wrecks thanks for bringing up my worst nightmare on my favourite blog…lol
    On a similar note take a look at bleve videos as well.

  • Felis_Concolor

    As an avid CiV player one of my favorite technology advances is prefaced by the phrase "A good rule for rocket experiments to follow is this: always assume that it will explode."
    –Astronautics Magazine 1937

  • As the years go on the explosions get higher and higher, and bigger and bigger. There also seems to be a decline in recording quality around 1980 or so. Probably the switch from expensive government funded research film to civilian video tape that's now 30 years old (and digitized.) Then the quality goes back up in the 90s.

  • jeepjeff

    13:55 still gets me. That was the hardest launch to watch.

    • Renchick

      Agreed. Makes my heart hurt.

    • Felis_Concolor

      A friend of mine could only feel relief upon seeing the accident – but to be fair, he was thinking "thank goodness that wasn't my dad up there."

      His father was on the alternates list for the schoolteacher in space program.

    • CopterBob

      We were all outside shivering in the parking lot at work–25 miles or so south of the pad–watching the launch, just as we did all the other launches. Being a space buff, I instantly knew something was terribly wrong–and most likely fatal–the moment I saw those corkscrewing contrails. Most everyone else was casually murmuring " that looks different", "haven't seen one do that before", etc. without immediately realizing the magnitude of what they were witnessing. It was all I could do to keep breathing. Even now, I really can't watch the video all the way through.

    • If you want to see a grown man cry, play that video for me.

      • ptschett

        I will admit to suddenly getting dust in my eyes the moment I saw those blue cones form up under the SSME's.

  • nanoop

    I could watch super slow-mo FILM footage of rockets, working properly or exploding, for hours. I think I actually did already.