SpaceX showed some tongue in cheek humility today as it released a "blooper" video of the series of crashes and explosions leading up to the first successful landing of the Falcon 9 first stage booster. The two-minute compilation, titled "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster," shows the many ways that things can go wrong during a landing, and that – like true love – the course of rocketry never did run smooth.
Successful landings of SpaceX's flagship Falcon 9 launch vehicle have become so routine that they hardly warrant a footnote these days, but it wasn't so long ago that almost every attempt ended in a spectacular fireball. To commemorate those early days, SpaceX has put together a video chronicling the string of failures that every pioneering engineer must face.
The video is accompanied by a string of captions commenting on the action involving crashes, mid-air explosions, rocket topplings, and general destruction. Some are explanations of what went wrong, like "Engine sensor fail," "Ran out of hydraulic fluid," "Ran out of propellant," and "Sticky throttle valve." Others are bit more editorial, with bon mots like "It's just a scratch," "Well, technically it did land … Just not in one piece," and "Not an explosion. It's a rapid unscheduled disassembly."
In a Twitter comment accompanying the release, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said, "Long road to reusabity (sic) of Falcon 9 primary boost stage … When upper stage & fairing also reusable, costs will drop by a factor >100."
To check out the fireworks, watch the video below.