Believe it or not, nasa currently cannot put a man into space. After the shuttle was decommissioned, NASA decided it was going to put their human launch capability in the hands of the private sector. In principal not such a bad thing….. in practice…. its highly debatable.
The explosion of the spaceX falcon 9 rocket on the pad in Aug. 2016 was a hell of a wakeup call. Nasa hasnt had an explosion while fuelling for ~40 years. This was all pretty well sorted out a LONG time ago.
Further how can you actually get an explosion while fuelling unless you have a structural failure of either the oxidant or fuel?
This looks to be a flaw with the actual rocket design… and further a rather expensive flaw.
Turns out the rocket that blew up cost about 60 million dollars per launch. Further the satellite it was carrying cost about 200 million dollars.
Now to be fair, NASA blew up a LOT of rockets before they worked out more or less how to do it right.
All that knowledge is basically locked up in NASA engineers minds. It seems remarkably optimistic to hope that Spacex will be able to do as good a job.
Sure spacex has done some good stuff. Recovery of the first stage looked impressive, but its so ridden with problems, that in practice its doubtful if it will ever be cost effective.
Reusable space vehicles has been a dream for DECADES, however in practice it cost almost as much to maintain as build new ones.
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