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.
Continue reading We Aren’t Always Perfect