Elon Musk releases explosive “blooper reel” of failed SpaceX launches
If he’s not tweeting about tunnels or killer robots, Elon Musk is giving fans a glimpse behind the scenes of SpaceX. After releasing an animation of what the Falcon Heavy launch will look like later this year, and revealing what astronauts on board future crewed flights will be wearing, he’s now released what he previously called a “blooper reel” of failed SpaceX rocket launches.
In the tweet, Musk explained: “Long road to reusability of Falcon 9 primary boost stage…When upper stage & fairing also reusable, costs will drop by a factor >100.” The low-res version is on the embedded tweet. The high-res version of the video, titled “How not to land an orbital rocket booster” is here:
In a previous tweet, teasing this video, Musk said: “Putting together SpaceX rocket landing blooper reel. We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage…” In the SpaceX manifest, there have been 43 launch attempts, with 52 future missions listed.
This video follows August’s Instagram post in which he unveiled the first picture of the SpaceX spacesuit. He has since released further images. The designs look a lot less bulky than NASA’s suits, for example, and feature the American flag on the arm. It had appeared that Musk himself had been placed inside the suit design as a model but he later said it was one of his SpaceX engineers.
SpaceX chose to develop its own suits for astronauts, rather than using existing designs. This is said to be more cost-effective and gives Musk’s firm greater control over changes and supplies.
Earlier this month, Musk used his Instagram account to share a first glimpse at what SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy will look like at launch. Falcon Heavy is said to provide twice the thrust of the next largest rocket currently flying, according to Musk. His Instagram post adds that Falcon Heavy has around 2/3 of the thrust of the Saturn V moon rocket.
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Previously known as Falcon 9 Heavy, the reusable rocket features a strengthened Falcon 9 core, with two Falcon 9 first stages used as strap-on boosters. The first stage is powered by a total of nine Merlin 1D engines. Musk’s SpaceX has designed the Falcon Heavy to increase the amount the rocket can carry into low Earth orbit. At full thrust, the Falcon 9 currently manages around 22.8 tonnes. Falcon Heavy will be able to launch almost three times that, at 63.8 metric tonnes.
The animation is clearly what Musk sees as an ideal launch, but he admitted at the time that a “lot can go wrong.” The launch date for the Falcon Heavy is tentatively scheduled for November from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 40.
Last month, SpaceX became one of the most valuable privately held companies in the world. In this little clique of wealthy, privately owned companies, SpaceX is rubbing shoulders with the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and WeWork.
SpaceX was propelled into this club after its latest funding round. Equidate, a marketplace for private company stock, obtained SpaceX’s latest financing round value and, while they haven’t disclosed it as a flat figure, we know that SpaceX now belongs in the $20 billion plus bracket of privately owned companies.
This latest round of funding has, seemingly, doubled the value of the company. The New York Times reports that when SpaceX raised $1 billion from Fidelity and Google in 2015, the company was valued at around $11 billion.
Despite the fact that SpaceX has suffered many setbacks – from early rocket failures and crash landings to delays in its plans to colonise Mars – it still remains an incredibly attractive investment proposition. Not only does it already work on private contracts for sending up commercial satellites, but it’s a pioneer in the reusable rocket space, ensuring that long-distance space travel is genuinely possible.
SpaceX’s nearest rival, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, hasn’t made anywhere near the same leaps as Musk’s company. It’s unclear how much capital Musk is putting into SpaceX himself – especially as he’s pushing really hard to turn Tesla into a renewable energy company – but Bezos claims he’s burning through $1 billion of Amazon stock each year to fund Blue Origin. Thankfully, as the second-richest man in the world, he can probably afford to do that.