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« The Wrong Man | Main | "Journalistic Malpractice" »

RIP XA-0.1

I read about this on Arocket last week, but Masten now has it up on their blog. They lost their test vehicle last week.

This is not a setback. It's a learning experience, and a demonstration of the virtues of cheap incremental testing.

[Afternoon update]

Dave Masten has a good point over at Arocket:

This morning I got a phone call from the landlords (Mojave Air and Space Port folks) asking about the "explosion, injuries, cats and dogs living together" and all other sorts of terrible calamities. OK, I exaggerate a bit, but I was specifically asked about an explosion. Seems Stu Witt is in D.C. visiting FAA/AST and he was asked about an explosion, so he called his staff here in Mojave and asked about it.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that there is no physical law that says a launch vehicle must explode if something goes wrong. I know that if this were a Zenit, Delta, or STS there probably would be an explosion. But, we are not building that type of vehicle. In fact several of us on this list specifically design our vehicles and operations so that the risk of explosion is negligible. It is not difficult to do. Just starting with the assumption that safety margins are more important than payload margin takes one a very long way towards that goal. Add in a little thought about survivability of a vehicle takes one the rest of the way.

So, if I could beg a favor from those of you on this list who are with AST, please let your colleagues know that a crash of our vehicle does not imply an explosion or even a fireball.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 18, 2007 07:47 AM
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