The Unstoppable Space Industry
On the Fourth of July, Americans grilled and blasted off fireworks in their backyards.
Meanwhile, 9,000 miles away in New Zealand, California-based startup Rocket Lab performed its 13th mission.
The goal was to launch a rocket that would carry Earth-imaging satellites into orbit.
All seemed normal in the first minutes of flight, which made many breathe a sigh of relief.
But then the live feed to the rocket cut out. And it began to lose speed and altitude.
It failed to reach orbit and the rocket with all of its cargo was lost.
With all of this success we’ve had recently, it’s easy to get disheartened when things fail.
You begin to cast doubt on the industry as a whole. And start to wonder if all this risk is even worth it.
I’m here to tell you it is.
A Blessing in Disguise
A failed mission oftentimes has a huge silver lining for the people that worked on the spacecraft.
The first being that scientists and engineers oftentimes learn more from a failed mission than a successful one.
A space launch is incredibly complex, with a huge amount of moving parts to get everything perfect.
Failures can happen for a variety of reasons. Even the wrong kind of welding on a rocket part could make the whole thing go up in smoke.
Finding out exactly why something failed makes it so that same mistake won’t happen again in the future. And this is especially crucial if you ever want to put people into space.
Rocket Lab, for instance, has launched 53 spacecraft with only two failures — the first launch and the most recent launch.
It’s better they catch this mistake now and lose a couple satellites than miss this mistake and risk the lives of actual people down the line.
We also have to put this failure into context.
Rocket Lab is a startup valued at a couple billion dollars. While that may seem like a lot, SpaceX, the current leader of the industry, is valued at around $36 billion.
Rocket Lab has a long way to go before it’s going to be a dominant force in the industry.
And even SpaceX had massive hurdles in the first few years of its existence.
Just take a look at the graph below…
SpaceX had failed launches all the way through 2016. And with more and more success, they slowly scaled launches more and more.
Space is hard, but we’re doing it.
And one failure doesn’t set back the industry.
It propels it forward.
The more we fail, the more we learn.
And right now is the best time to get in on the industry before it takes off.
To a bright future,