Emergent Tech

SpaceX releases Pythonesque video of rocket failures

It did land, just not in one piece

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco


Video Elon Musk is succeeding in his ambition to make space launches boringly reliable, but it still understands that people like to watch things blowing up.

To that end, SpaceX has released a video entitled "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster," showing footage of all the times its rockets didn't quite make the grade. Normally SpaceX is very careful of its public image, but the video shows that someone in the editing suite has a sense of humor.

Set to the theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus (better known as John Philip Sousa's Liberty Bell), the video shows rockets crashing after sensor failures, running out of fuel or hydraulic fluid, and a slow-motion fail as one of the Falcon 9's landing legs collapsed.

The creators also added pithy little comments, such as: "It did land, just not in one piece," and "That's not an explosion, it's just a rapid, unscheduled disassembly." The phrases mirror SpaceX's usual obtuse language, for instance describing last year's launch pad explosion as an "anomaly."

One thing the video does make clear is why SpaceX keeps its floating landing pads – the Just Read the Instructions on the West Coast and Of Course I Still Love You in the East – unmanned. Given the explosions they have had to deal with in the past, it would be a brave and foolish employee who agreed to take a trip on one. ®

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