1 hour ago

I disagree strongly. SpaceX has always felt, especially to those in the industry, to have a blatant disregard for even basic elements of safety in their design and operation.

They _did_ supercool their propellants, and pushing that envelope was indeed worthwhile to see what they could gain from it. Unfortunately they _also_ decided to stage the payload to shave a day off of integration time.

SpaceX is a very interesting company, and I wish them the best because there are a lot of smart people working there on difficult problems. But I personally can’t stand seeing them take unnecessary risks and treating it as a necessary cost of business. It terrifies me that they want to strap three of these Falcon 9 cores together, or that they want to put people on top of this thing.

I disagree strongly. SpaceX has always felt, especially to those in the industry, to have a blatant disregard for even basic elements of safety in their design and operation.

Do you realize that this company does more testing and more rigorous tests than other launch service provider?

Source? I’ve heard that they have more sensors and telemetry on individual tests, but I hadn’t heard that they’re more rigorous than other providers.

Well just one example: The static fire test that ended in the explosion is not even done by other providers.

One recent example is SpaceX doing the pad abort test, and a planned in-flight abort test for their Dragon 2 capsule, while Boeing is doing their testing on paper.

Do you know where I can review the test methodologies and summary results of the top providers in space launching?

As an amateur space and SpaceX follower, could you go into detail as to what elements of safety in design and operations you believe they have disregarded?

In operation, there were two events I was told in confidence by current and former employees that I would rather not disclose publicly. Without going into specifics, they both related to operational deficiencies in launch systems (hardware in one instance, software in another) that were not disclosed to NASA prior to launch.

This hits me particularly hard as this is not an industry where you ask forgiveness rather than permission. I was involved in situations with a separate contractor where we diagnosed technical problems days before a launch that in all likelihood would not have affected any other systems.

We still went to NASA, admitted our faults, and provided an analysis of the situation and mitigating steps we would take in order to get their blessing. They worked with us and we didn’t disrupt the launch schedule, but we were fully prepared to if that was what it took.

For the design aspects, I admit it isn’t my forte and I’m taking the word of other engineers who may have their own biases. In short, the use of many small engines used together (e.g. Falcon Heavy using 27 Merlin-1Ds and MCT using 9 Raptors) makes a lot of people who have been doing this for much longer than I very uncomfortable. This is especially true given that they are planning on launching Falcon Heavy missions so soon without having tested the cores operating together extensively (to my knowledge, at least).

I’m sorry if this comes off as overly aggressive or biased. I do really think that reusability, automation, and low cost are important goals to work towards. I also even think that SpaceX is making some of the greatest strides in the industry. But I’m very uncomfortable with the company that seems (at least to me) to be disregarding established knowledge that was gained through the hardships of an earlier era.

Just to be clear: you believe SpaceX has “a blatant disregard for even basic elements of safety in their design and operation,” and you base this on two anecdotes from friends (which you won’t share), and an element of the Falcon 9 that has never caused a loss of vehicle, and is arguably a point of reliability (Falcon 9 can still complete its mission with an engine out, while most other launchers cannot).

The way you make reliable rockets is to manufacture more of them and build more reliable system for manufacturing, or so that’s the argument.

I fully respect your argument and where you are coming from. Thank you.

As an engineer, I fully support Elon Musk’s approach. Space in general is unreliable and there are thousands and thousands of moving parts in space travel and the payloads they carry. A simple error or fault in any of these parts can create unpredictable outcomes. Remember the Apollo missions?Columbia space shuttle disaster?

So, to me it seems perfectly acceptable to focus on reducing the costs of these missions to the point where these missions become cheaper, some fail – we learn, and ultimately failures won’t matter much because we cut the costs down by tenth or even twentieth. If we move at the pace of the current industry, it will take 500 years to out a man on Mars. Obviously I am exaggerating but you see my point. Let them try something new, fail but learn and ultimately speed has to matter because humanity has ambitions and Universe is friggin big.

We still need to account for the carbon emissions of such an explosion. A complete carbon study would include how much GHG we save thanks to the satellite we pace, how much we encourage emitting more GHG by making rockets ten times cheaper and encouraging satellite, how much energy we require to generate that weight of H2, how emissions of a normal launch at high altitude compare to ground-level emissions (hint: GHG from rockets are around 9x more harmful than the same weight of a Boeing 747’s kerosen), and how frequently we have explosions that lead to no satellite launched and pollution. Whether SpaceX is actually advancing humanity is the real question here.

But it seems the aircraft industry is much worse (3-5% of global warming). https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/4c9ts4/what_are_the…

The best way to know would be to introduce a tax on GHG and let the markets decide which activities lose their affordability, instead of each of us trying to make a GHG calculation of our own activities.

from Department of Private Space Inc.