SpaceX Embraces Fast Failures as the Best Path to Fast Fixes

(p. B1) SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft pulled off an extended flight through space on its third test mission, marking major progress for a vehicle that could one day transport astronauts to the moon and beyond.

Shortly after launching the nearly 400-foot-tall rocket Thursday [March 14, 2024], SpaceX successfully separated the booster from the spacecraft, which proceeded to fly for around an hour before it was lost while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, according to a company livestream.

The mission advanced much farther than the company’s previous two Starship test flights. It was a milestone for a vehicle that is a centerpiece of SpaceX’s commercial ambitions, NASA’s space exploration plans, and company founder Elon Musk’s goal of one day sending humans to Mars.

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(p. B4) Current and former SpaceX leaders have said the company embraces failing fast to try to rapidly identify fixes and improve. The company took 63 corrective actions to address issues that emerged during the initial launch, and an additional 17 following the second, according to the FAA.

For the full story, see:

Micah Maidenberg. “SpaceX Starship’s Third Test Mission Marks Major Progress Before Explosion.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, March 15, 2024): B1 & B4.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated March 14, 2024, and has the title “SpaceX’s Starship Makes Major Progress in Third Flight Test.”)

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