August 18, 2008
Back From Vacation

And here's the promised pictures of Morskie Oko (Poland)...

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And Mala Studena Dolina (Slovakia)...

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So, did I miss anything? Oh yes...another SpaceX rocket blew up while I was out of town. Which makes it the magical number three for the company.

It's interesting to compare the progression of changes in Musk's attitude towards the magical launch number three over time:


  • Circa 2003, Elon Musk states that he has enough resources to personally fund the company through three launch failures. (A statement which, unfortunately, I can't seem to find online -- many references to it, yes, but not the original source. If anyone has the original statement, please send me a link and I'll add it here.)
  • May 25, 2004 [pdf], a clarification: "So we wanted to make sure the capital would sustain us through at least three failures. And if we get three failures in a row, then we donít deserve to be in the rocket business, is the basic theory that I had."
  • April 3, 2006, moving the goalposts: "In the past, I've said that I would accept three consecutive failures. However, I actually consider this first launch a partial success, because we were able to test so much hardware working together in flight...That means we still have at least three failures to go before I would even consider throwing in the towel," Musk explained.
  • April 14, 2008, revising and extending earlier remarks: "My comments need to be put in the proper framework. What I said was that if we have three failures in a row we should probably give up, because nobody will want to buy our rockets."
  • August 6, 2008, abandoning the 'three failures and out' vow altogether: is "For my part, I will never give up and I mean never."

The guy is certainly entitled to change his mind, I simply think it's interesting to note the progression over time of his attitude towards this third failure. I for one hope he does finally get it right...we're in something of a pickle if he doesn't, the way Constellation is going and the way the Russians are behaving lately.

On the other hand, that last statement is unsettlingly categorical. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but isn't that the sort of denial people often make just before doing exactly what it was they said they would never do?

Posted by T.L. James on August 18, 2008 06:10 PM | TrackBack

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