What Nice Rockets Don’t Do

A bright explosion on the Falcon 9 landing platform illustrates the Guardian’s skeptical reaction to Elon Musk’s tenderly-phrased description of the event:

Private spaceflight company SpaceX has released new pictures of its Falcon 9 rocket attempting to land on a floating platform in the Gulf of Mexico before undergoing what its chief executive, Elon Musk, euphemistically referred to as “RUD” – that’s “Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly”.

In other words, it blew up.

I’m reminded of Bob Shaw’s line about a company trying to market submarines that took “unplanned depth excursions.” Which is to say, they sank.

7 thoughts on “What Nice Rockets Don’t Do

  1. My understanding it was more of a crash. Nice phrase, though.

    They hit the platform. That alone is a BIG thing – they are doing something *very* hard. Umm.. kind of like Rocket Science… :^)

  2. Elon Musk has a good sense of humor. Here’s one of his tweets about the rough landing:
    “Didn’t get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and … actual pieces.”

  3. I’m unclear what reasons Musk has for a marine landing, anyway? Is there too little dry land to aim for? Or is he thinking ahead, so he can land valuable asteroid minerals in the open sea, avoid regulation and cheat everyone of their taxes?

  4. They are planning on returning boosters directly to the Cape. But it takes more fuel (the barge is about 200 miles downrange) and they want to demonstrate successful landing on the barge first. If they miss, there’s nothing to damage, other than their egos. The barge seems pretty robust.

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