Every major project has its safety hazards and despite man’s best efforts with hundreds of checks and balances to ensure that the end product is 100 percent safe and foolproof, there is always the element or risk that may cause problems.
This does not imply that the makers of such products do not pay attention to detail or neglect safety factors, in fact, so much scrutiny and precision are given to security that a product is checked over and over again before it goes off the assembly line.
Automakers, Aircraft manufacturers, communication equipment makers, weapons producers, and hundreds of household and consumer products have to pass stringent safety checks before being sent to the market.
However, it is a well-known fact that Aircrafts have known to crash, cars have been recalled for transmission faults or one thing or another. Computers, cell phones, household consumer items have all failed at one time or another for some reason or another.
The American Space Program by far has been one of the greatest, most expensive and ambitious project undertaken by the National Space and Aeronautics Administration NASA and billions of dollars have been invested in ensuring that rockets and spaceships are built to the highest standards and specifications of safety in mind.
As, far as mechanical things are concerned, it is virtually next to impossible to predict that things will work l with clockwork precision as even the NASA projects were not immune to disaster.
In this context, three major mishaps have to be pointed out to realize that things can go wrong despite everything.
Launched on April 11, 1970, at 13.13 Central Standard Time (CST) Apollo 13 was the 7th manned mission to space and third intended to land on the moon. However, two days later an oxygen tank exploded on board causing the spaceship’s s system to malfunction causing loss of cabin heat, power loss and a shortage of potable water. It was nothing short of a miracle as the world watched with bated breath and-and intense anxiety that the ship safely made re-entry into the earth’s orbit, and a major disaster was thus averted.
Fortune, however, did not favor the crews of Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia both of which disintegrated in mid-flight the first in 73 seconds after launch in on 28-1-1986 and the latter on re-entry into the earth’s Atmosphere on 1-02-2003 killing all crew instantly on board seven each on each Shuttle. NASA ended the shuttle program on 31Aug, 2011.
In the latest development concerning the space program, an F-9 rocket belonging not to NASA but of a private company SpaceX owned by a flamboyant and dynamic young entrepreneur Elon Musk exploded during a Cape Canaveral launch.
Fortunately, there was no loss of life or damage to property due to the result. SpaceX is in the business of launching commercial satellites in space and transporting cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Falcon X rocket was carrying an Israeli communications satellite which was also destroyed. The satellite was to be used by Facebook for better connectivity purposes in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Emergency teams immediately responded to the crisis and NASA was monitoring the release of any toxic fumes SpaceX said in a statement stated that the explosion occurred due to an anomaly ” during the static fire test resulted in the loss of the rocket and the Israeli communications satellite that it had been due to carry into space on Saturday.
The explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40 at the Air Force station, right next door to Kennedy Space Center.
NASA said that Kennedy emergency staff were on standby. At the same time, personnel was monitoring the air for any toxic fumes. The Air Force stressed there was no threat to public safety in the surrounding communities.
The explosion is a major setback to SpaceX which has far-reaching ambitions which also involves sending a man mission to the red planet Mars with the sole purpose of colonizing it in by 2025.
Local authorities explained that area residents were not at risk due to the explosion.
NASA relies on SpaceX for transporting goods to the International Space Station supplying it food, science equipment, and other supplies.
The explosion will seriously affect SpaceX’s busy schedule as a replacement rocket will take months to build. Moreover, damage if any to the Launchpad has to be taken into account.
It would not be a surprise that Elon Musk takes on lease a rocket from space companies around the world for he is known to be very enterprising and seeking the initiative.
Despite stringent safety checks, it is next to impossible to avoid a disaster of such a nature.
NASA and the US government is very well known to apply the strictest standards and specifications as regards the human safety factor so the next launch when it comes, will be under intense watch.
As for Elon Musk and his businesses this though will be a major setback for the time being but knowing the company’s overdrive to deliver it will bounce back in no time.
Musk, has experienced similar problems with his Tesla Car Model S the autopilot of which malfunctioned and a Tesla car was involved in a crash which resulted in the death of a passenger Mark Zuckerberg, the owner, and CEO of Facebook speaking on the incident expressed his disappointment over the destroyed AMOS-6 satellite, owned by Israel-based Spacecom as it would have provided connectivity to many entrepreneurs and every else on the continent.
Facebook has entered into a partnership with Eutelsat Communications to boost data connectivity to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the satellite was part of that plan to increase bandwidth.
The dedication and devotion of people like Zuckerberg and Musk speak volumes of the dynamic young entrepreneurs of the times for every setback is a major challenge, and they meet up with the expectations of the people.
In a statement, Zuckerberg said “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” he wrote
As for Musk who launched Space X in 2002 for the time being, all does not bode well.
The immediate concern would be how this accident will affect SpaceX’s current schedule as nine more launches are planned for 2016. A rocket costs almost 200m dollars and not easy to replace. Companies will probably cook elsewhere for their space rides.
There are many who will say Space X was moving too fast and needs to be reined in. Will NASA cancel its contracts and cause immense financial losses to the company. It is too early to predict what will happen. However, one thing is sure, in commercial ventures of such magnitude delays Elon Musk, has a difficult task ahead of him. First to secure rockets, ensure 100 per cent safety, convince clients that Space X can deliver. Meanwhile, shareholders will be jittery if company stock will plummet. The shares of Spacecom, the Israeli communications company whose satellite was destroyed along with the rocket fell. The company will be compensated by Israel Aerospace Industries.
Space X has had suffered mishaps before, and its first three launches ended up in failure, however after 2008 when it completed its successful launch it was on the roads to success.
His other companies Tesla cars and Tesla Solar City are doing very well.
With the launch of the Tesla Super X, sales have skyrocketed, and orders are pouring in. Perhaps Musk will divert his Tesla’s profits to salvage SpaceX.
The man as mentioned is very creative and dynamic in his business dealings, His shareholders have confidence in him and have invested heavily in his company.
Of course as is the norm many clients will be reluctant to book orders with Space X but given the business acumen of Musk and his persuasive powers he will win over his customers.
Meanwhile, a lot of planning, restructuring, financing has to be put in place. The company plans to fly its first unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2018 and send humans to Mars as early as 2025.
The World is becoming smaller and the population bigger and the idea of seeking to colonize Mars has a lot of appeals. Elon Musk is a visionary and a risk taker and although his latest venture has backfired his supporters, investors, and his employees have unshakable faith in him.
At a relatively young age of 45, Elon Musk is going places, and one accident will not dampen his spirit at all for he will emerge more successful, richer and powerful.
There have been many men in history who have taken risks, met with failures such as Edison or Einstein but they never gave up and persevered in their efforts to realize their dreams. Elon Musk is such a man and Space the final frontier.