Thursday, March 23, 2023

Successful Failure

      On the third try, Relativity Space's mostly 3-D printed rocket took off yesterday -- and failed to reach orbit.  They're cheering nevertheless: nobody's managed to be first-time-lucky making orbit yet, and the first stage, the part that does the really heavy lifting, worked fine, all the way through the worst part of the launch.

      Stage two, not so much.  Something went wrong and it fizzled.

      It was a success anyway: first 3-D printed rocket engines, one of the first methane-fueled rockets (China launched one in 2022, which also failed in the second stage), and presumably a lot of good data collected.

      Here's hoping they do better next time.  There's not a lot of news on their next step; they're working on a larger rocket and testing may proceed in parallel with the smaller one they launched Wednesday.  The company's plan is to reuse first and second stages along with the payload fairing.  Every bit that can be reused is a significant reduction in cost and one more step towards affordable space travel.

      Having grown up near a part of the country that experienced the U.S.'s first large-scale exploitation of natural gas, I do have to wonder what those 19th-Century tech moguls would have thought about the use we're making of the stuff they treated so cavalierly. 

1 comment:

RandyGC said...


I saw a statement somewhere once that there are no failed experiments, only experiments that successfully discovered a way not to accomplish the intended goal.