12 votes

SpaceX’s Unnerving Silence on an Explosive Incident

12 comments

  1. [4]
    Neverland
    (edited )
    Link
    This is as grim as it gets without loss of life. Very unfortunate, and a great example of why NASA makes human rating so difficult. The explosion video in the article seems to be getting little...

    This is as grim as it gets without loss of life. Very unfortunate, and a great example of why NASA makes human rating so difficult.

    The explosion video in the article seems to be getting little press, I had not seen it until this Atlantic piece.

    Edit: I take it for granted that everyone thinks SpaceX is the coolest, and I now realize that the tone of the OP link, and my comment does not respect the insane pace of innovation at SpaceX and company mission. See this comment.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      Wow, "engulfed in flames" is an understatement.

      Wow, "engulfed in flames" is an understatement.

      5 votes
      1. CALICO
        Link Parent
        I'd be very interested to read a potential future post-mortem on the matter. The capsule survived space just fine not that long ago.

        I'd be very interested to read a potential future post-mortem on the matter.
        The capsule survived space just fine not that long ago.

        5 votes
      2. emdash
        Link Parent
        Such is the nature of rocketry—although Hydrazine & Nitrogen Tetroxide are particularly nasty, being carcinogenic and all.

        Such is the nature of rocketry—although Hydrazine & Nitrogen Tetroxide are particularly nasty, being carcinogenic and all.

        2 votes
  2. [5]
    NecrophiliaChocolate
    Link
    Can someone explain to me why Space X's silence is such a big deal? Why? They are a private company, why should they expect to be more transparent with the public? I get that it is done through...

    Can someone explain to me why Space X's silence is such a big deal?

    But SpaceX should expect to be more transparent about its work for NASA, especially as it nears the finish line.

    Why? They are a private company, why should they expect to be more transparent with the public? I get that it is done through tax money, but it was technically NASA who hired them. As long as they are transparent with NASA, it should be no problem. Now if NASA wants to disclose it to the public, thats up to them.

    Edit: Forgot to add, I understand that this is supposed to take humans, but thats literally the point of the test right. If astronauts or anyone actually died, thats an extreme circumstance and I understand that a statement should be required then.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      A culmination of reasons, really. The first is that SpaceX is a popular company overall, and has a high mindshare amongst technical types and to some extent the public. Compare this to Boeing, who...

      Can someone explain to me why Space X's silence is such a big deal?

      A culmination of reasons, really. The first is that SpaceX is a popular company overall, and has a high mindshare amongst technical types and to some extent the public. Compare this to Boeing, who had a similar launch abort system issue months ago. But I bet you haven't heard of that, outside of some industry magazines. SpaceX would really be following Boeing here in the amount of information disclosed post-anomaly.

      The second issue is that this is technically a taxpayer funded program, and given how relatively open SpaceX was about their Commercial Cargo contract developments, and other anomalies such as CRS-7, this appears unusual to some. I'd have to check the actual contract, but I think there is a minimum level of public reporting necessary to satisfy public outreach along with NASA transparency & governance requirements.

      Finally, there's this misplaced view amongst some SpaceX fans that the company is "open". They're really not. They follow ITAR like every other aerospace company. The interpretation of openness comes from a willingness to publicize events that are not easily obscured, such as booster landings, etc.

      They don't tell you about the time they nearly blew up a rocket on the launch pad because of a software malfunction in their new abort system, or the time they nearly irreparably damaged one of their barges thanks to a very high-speed booster landing, or that time during a test at McGregor they destroyed the entire engine manifold frame, taking all the engines with it, of one of their first stages; or the Merlin engines they blew up multiple times a year during testing. Yes—this all happened, if you follow enough SpaceX nerds and are subscribed to the right channels, you get to hear small tidbits on these sorts of things. They're just as secretive as any other company.

      Space X

      Also, one final thing, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, because I've been told it's overzealous, but it's SpaceX. Not Space X, or Space-X. It's an extremely common mistake, and I, to this day, cannot figure out what causes people to make it. It's like spelling IBM as "I B M". Whether it's an autocorrect issue, or some presumed intent for a space in the term, I don't know.

      8 votes
      1. NecrophiliaChocolate
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the correction, I will keep it in mind moving forward. Obviously I had no malice, I just hadn't put any thought into it. I don't think because they are popular they should suddenly be...

        Thanks for the correction, I will keep it in mind moving forward. Obviously I had no malice, I just hadn't put any thought into it.

        A culmination of reasons, really. The first is that SpaceX is a popular company overall, and has a high mindshare amongst technical types and to some extent the public. Compare this to Boeing, who had a similar launch abort system issue months ago.

        I don't think because they are popular they should suddenly be required or even expected to be more public, the space industry is also a lot more restrictive in terms of what is allowed to be said to the public than say something like automotive. This is an expectation the public has set upon itself.

        The second issue is that this is technically a taxpayer funded program, and given how relatively open SpaceX was about their Commercial Cargo contract developments, and other anomalies such as CRS-7, this appears unusual to some. I'd have to check the actual contract, but I think there is a minimum level of public reporting necessary to satisfy public outreach along with NASA transparency & governance requirements.

        I feel like this contradicts your first point. I checked the article you sent and Boeing's response was pretty much 'anomaly.' On the other hand, I don't know about any contract or minimum public reporting and if I were to comment on it I would have no idea what I am talking about, so I will assume you are correct there.

        Finally, there's this misplaced view amongst some SpaceX fans that the company is "open". They're really not. They follow ITAR like every other aerospace company. The interpretation of openness comes from a willingness to publicize events that are not easily obscured, such as booster landings, etc.

        So what's going on here? Should SpaceX expect to be more public? Or is this article more of a wake up call for the public?

    2. CALICO
      Link Parent
      I don't think the silence is a very big deal unless it became permanent, like a cover-up kinda deal. To me it makes sense they'd be quiet for a while, while they try and get a better idea of what...

      I don't think the silence is a very big deal unless it became permanent, like a cover-up kinda deal. To me it makes sense they'd be quiet for a while, while they try and get a better idea of what went wrong and why.

      If this were a rocket with a manned payload and they didn't say anything at all for some time, I'd be more concerned. But as I recall when the Falcon Heavy first launched last February, it didn't come out officially for some time that the main rocket didn't stick the landing. But when they did talk about it they had an idea what went wrong and let the public know about it.

      3 votes
    3. Neverland
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I completely agree with you and I was actually a bit surprised by that headline coming from The Atlantic. The reason I posted this was just for the video, which I hadn’t run across yet. I didn’t...

      I completely agree with you and I was actually a bit surprised by that headline coming from The Atlantic. The reason I posted this was just for the video, which I hadn’t run across yet. I didn’t mean to pile scorn on SpaceX at all.

      As far as explaining the common take on this, I see some parallel between this and the Samsung Fold supposedly being a “debacle.” Major innovation, limited release/testing and at a late stage there is spectacular failure. But I personally give both companies serious leeway for actually innovating.

  3. [2]
    Cosmos
    (edited )
    Link
    This isn't the first time I've noticed them cover up a failure. During the first falcon Heavy Launch, the rocket that tried to land on the barge crashed. This is how they covered it in the live...

    This isn't the first time I've noticed them cover up a failure. During the first falcon Heavy Launch, the rocket that tried to land on the barge crashed. This is how they covered it in the live stream. It was immediately clear what happened. But they decided to lie and bullshit instead to keep the positive news going. It wasn't until several days later that they acknowledged that it crashed.

    They are putting PR and money above all else. And that is exactly what got Boeing into their current situation.

    2 votes
    1. Neverland
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      For what it’s worth, I think SpaceX is at least 10x more open than any other space launch provider. Their live-streams set the standard imo, they openly plan insanely audacious thinks like landing...

      For what it’s worth, I think SpaceX is at least 10x more open than any other space launch provider. Their live-streams set the standard imo, they openly plan insanely audacious thinks like landing a booster, they accept failure as part of their panning due to their audacity, they eventually always share their failures for all to see. SpaceX is by far the company I most support in the entire world at the moment. Super young smart people doing the impossible every day, in the open for everyone to see. The goal of the their efforts is to make humans a multi-planetary species. What company can beat that? But aerospace companies do have to be secretive sometimes, of their own volition or not.

      1 vote