THE BEST INCIDENT INVESTIGATION?
THE ONE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN!
What is the cost of the recent SpaceX failure?
On September 1, 2016 the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a fueling test. Both the $60 million rocket and $200 million satellite it was carrying were completely destroyed. It also caused extensive damage to the launch pad and ground equipment, which will also cost millions of dollars to repair.
This is the second time in 15 months that a SpaceX rocket has exploded on the launch pad. All SpaceX launches are on hold until a thorough investigation is performed and root causes identified and corrective actions instituted.
Fortunately, no one was injured. But, how much in total will this incident cost? To SpaceX? To its clients? To the development and progress of space exploration? What more valuable work could be done by the folks involved in this investigation?
In time we will understand what errors led up to this incident, like many other technically challenging investigations. The causes will be rooted in errors and failures that could have been prevented.
When we perform our daily work – we must take the time to think about what could go wrong and what we are doing to ensure we are following policies and procedures. We must also recognize when we don’t have all the answers – to stop work – and ask for help.