Space Launch

At around 2:33pm my time (MDT) NASA/SpaceX are going to launch for the ISS. As I write this, launch is about an hour away. Conditions are red for weather, but there’s hope things will clear up.

I’m equally excited and concerned. Probably my biggest single feeling is worry that something will go catastrophically wrong. Some humans just strapped themselves to a pillar of low explosive and are trying to stretch the bang out so they make it into space. If the bang happens a little too fast, they’ll die.

That’s is why the Space Shuttle was decommissioned. 2/5 or 40% of them blew up killing everyone on board. While it might have held great national pride, 40% kill ratio is just not good enough. The Dragon doesn’t really have a safety rating. This is a first time affair, so there are no statistics.

On the other hand, and perhaps a little more than 50%, I’m excited because if this works, big things are underway. We cannot ignore the symbolism and practical aspects of the USA being back in the manned space industry again. Models are only as good as the data we put into them, and the best way to get that data, the only way to get some, is by doing the deed. We have to actually send people into space to learn about sending people into space, and I take as a premise that sending people into space is a good thing to do.

Furthermore, I don’t think NASA should be building all rockets forever. There will be some things the government should be doing, things that are infeasible for the private sector as well as things that should be discouraged. But regulation should be the domain of the government. NASA should set the speed limits and paint the lines on the road. Building the cars should be done by private companies.

There will be exceptions. A telescope might be better suited to government construction than a private company. I could easily imagine a situation where a resource like position might be found to be unique, and therefore best adjudicated by the government. But technology has pushed merely getting into space out of that role.

Alt-tabbing over, the launch looks go.

On a personal note, I think people tend to ignore how invested they are in things like this because problems arise or other people aren’t. We walk around in ditches with the issues we must address piled high on either side. That’s not a mistake. We need to be mindful of the pandemic, paying rent, or buying groceries, and pay most of our attention to people we know.

But there are a lot of people in the US. If a bunch of them devote 1% of their efforts to space travel, that’s a huge amount of work. And those people rely on others, so we should be grateful even to those who don’t necessarily agree with us.

We should be extra grateful to the people strapping themselves to the rocket. Bob and Doug are the ones who will do the dying if this doesn’t work, and that brings us full circle.

I suppose I’m first worried and mostly excited.

30 minutes away.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Good luck, everyone.

Edit: They just scrubbed it for weather.

It’s the right thing to do. They pushed the weather countdown, and still scrubbed. I get the impression they thought things might clear up 10 minutes past the launch time, but it was an instantaneous window, and could not be delayed.

In aviation this is a big thing. Don’t push safety. If you can’t do it, don’t try. Just do the right thing, even if it is a disappointment.

Impatience is no reason to get someone killed. I’ll be excited for Saturday.