run down bulletin


SpaceX: “Like all start-ups, Elon Musk progresses through successive failures”

has Seeing the triumphant reactions of SpaceX and NASA following the explosion of the giant Starship rocket on Saturday, November 18, we can wonder what separates success from failure? Sometimes just a point of view. Americans are often credited with the ability to see the glass as half full, which prompts them to innovate more easily, without the fear of failure that sometimes paralyzes Europeans, led by the French.

For more than fifty years in Silicon Valley, we have systematized this approach, which involves progressing through successive failures. All start-ups are working on this model. It is not surprising, because in computer science, the iterative method was developed to develop algorithms that find the correct answer by making mistakes.

That’s exactly what Elon Musk is doing with his companies, including SpaceX, the designer of Starship. “We evolve, steal, break things and come back to steal again”explains SpaceX’s vice president of construction and flight reliability, William Gerstenmeyer, in an interview. Bloomberg.

A method that also has its drawbacks

The advantage of this approach is that it allows for all kinds of boldness. In April, the maiden flight of Starship, the world’s largest rocket capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo and people into space, ended with the rocket disintegrating three minutes after the first stage separated. , but at the completely destroyed firing point, the fire of which set fire to the neighboring forest. Good news! We know what needs to be improved.

Seven months later, SpaceX completely overhauled the launch pad, flooding it with a shower of water on liftoff and a two-stage separation system. And it worked. The Starship module has reached the edge of space, at an altitude of 100 kilometers. But two components of the rocket, the first stage and the module, which were supposed to be returned to Earth for reuse, broke apart. A new opportunity for improvement.

Obviously, this method is also the so-called “test and learn” (“Test and Learn”), has some flaws. It’s expensive. One run is valued at over $500 million (€458 million). But NASA is generous and has allocated about 10 billion dollars to get men back on the moon by the end of the decade. And then practice can lead to excess, as it allows you to try everything, sometimes without any legality, as in the experience of Uber or Airbnb. The road to innovation is not a long, quiet river that ignores rules and precautionary principles.

Source: Le Monde



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *