Space X: How not to land a reusable rocket booster

Today Space X published a blooper reel summarizing the history of the company’s attempts to successfully land a reusable rocket engine. Essentially this is two minutes of one public and embarrassing (not to mention expensive) failure after another. Rockets crash. They explode. They fall over and then explode. Some drop out of the sky (and explode). But the company obviously has a sense of humor about this given that they chose a piece of music best known as the Monty Python theme (Sousa’s The Liberty Bell).

I get that people have problems with Elon Musk. His entire business empire is dependent on billions in government subsidies. From the LA Times in 2015:

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups…

The figure compiled by The Times comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars.

That’s a lot of other people’s money going into these ventures, but to be fair Space X is the least offender. The LA Times says the company made a development deal worth $20 million to build a launch facility in Texas, but that’s a paltry sum compared to the $5.5 billion in contracts it has earned for jobs including taking supplies to the international space station.

Up next for Space X, plans to put 4,000 communication satellites into orbit and beam broadband internet services to the entire globe. That effort is designed to fund Musk’s real ambition, a colony on Mars.

David Strom 12:41 PM on September 26, 2022