“Failure is an option here,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in an interview in 2005, adding, “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
In the years that followed, as his team of crack engineers endeavored to perfect its reusable rocket system, we saw boosters not only flying off course, but also blowing up in mid-air, landing in a fireball, and exploding on the launchpad. You name the calamity, and the calamity pretty much happened. For Musk, failure isn’t only an option, it’s a downright necessity.
In a tongue-in-cheek nod to those fiery failures, the billionaire entrepreneur on Thursday posted a blooper video (below) showing, as he describes it, “The sordid history of how the SpaceX Falcon 9, the first fully reusable, orbit-class booster rocket, eventually managed to land in one piece and stay that way.”
Titled “How not to land an orbital rocket booster,” the video is a 60-second string of spectacular disasters set to Sousa’s Liberty Bell March, better known by many as the Monty Python theme tune.
Some of the extremely expensive mishaps featured in the video include a “hard impact on ocean”; an engine sensor failure resulting in a dramatic mid-air explosion; and a loss of balance where the rocket landed before toppling over and blowing up.
There’s also a clip showing Elon Musk nonchalantly inspecting the smoldering wreckage of a mangled Falcon 9 with the caption, “Rocket is fine? It’s just a scratch.” And another showing a fireball as the rocket came down too hard, with the accompanying comment, “Well, technically it did land … just not in one piece.”
If all of SpaceX’s launches and landings were still ending in disaster, it would’ve been someone other than Musk posting a blooper video like this. But because the team’s tireless efforts over the years have resulted in major successes, Musk is happy to share his company’s ongoing story with some humor mixed in.
After its first successful launch and landing in December, 2015, SpaceX is moving toward perfecting its system, enabling it to reuse boosters for repeat missions to drastically reduce the cost of space travel. And with Musk insisting that failure is an option as he continues to innovate, we’ll likely get to enjoy a few more of his blooper videos in the years to come.