Reaction to the Mojave accident

A recap of responses to Thursday’s explosion in Mojave:

The Personal Spaceflight Federation released a brief statement about the accident: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and those injured or lost in today’s incident. We will await the results of the investigation before further comment, but we have complete confidence that the causes of the incident will be found in due course.”

The X Prize Foundation also issued a short statement: “We were devastated to learn about the heartbreaking loss that took place at Scaled Composites yesterday. Our hearts go out to all the families in Mojave who are working through this tragedy. It is a sad reality that pushing the boundaries of exploration involves great risk. These people are true pioneers and it is our hope that the spirit of exploration they embody will love on.”

It isn’t on the company’s web site, but the LA Daily News reports that Northrop Grumman, the company in the process of buying Scaled, issued a statement about the accident on Friday. “Northrop Grumman extends our condolences to the people of Scaled Composites and share in their grief and sadness with the loss and injuries of their co-workers,” the Daily News quotes from the statement.

The Space Frontier Foundation issued a press release calling for the “NewSpace movement” to press ahead despite the accident. “Whatever the cause of this tragic event was, they will get to the bottom of it, fix the problem, and then make their spaceship fly,” said Foundation co-founder Jim Muncy. “It will be the best possible way to honor their sacrifice.”

There is supposed to be a statement about the accident on Scaled Composites’ web site, but as of Saturday morning the site appears to be down, perhaps from heavy traffic.

3 comments to Reaction to the Mojave accident

  • RKM

    What is truly striking is how easily the hard learned lessons from over 50 years of launch vehicle engineering development and manned spaceflight can so easily be forgotten, even to the point of arrogantly ignoring the most fundamental safety practices (e.g., Q-D). Apparently these days all it takes to garner credibility is media hype and a committed following of armchair engineers and hobbyist rocketeers. Frankly, the fact that this accident could even be allowed to happen is an outrage, and this company’s amateurish practices need to be fully scrutinized by the appropriate Government agencies, most specifically the FAA and the California State Fire Marshall. Statements have been released in the past that this is a risky affair and lives may well be lost. That is the attitude of madmen that have no business participating in this emerging industry. Their bold arrogance aside, should these businesses really have a “license to kill”?

    Let’s get it straight people, Scaled and VG are not pushing any new frontier, they are developing a business to sell souped-up airplane thrill rides to the likes of Paris Hilton. And they have leveraged mankind’s intrinsic need of exploration to cloak that simple reality. Some small progress may occur as a consequence, but only because of the business area they are working in. Fact is, they are in it to make a profit – at minimal expense and investment, like any other business..

    Privatizing space travel so far has the appearance of a fool’s endeavor, being mostly led by people with no more qualification to participate other than having a large checkbook. Should any group with true professional expertise ever gain a financial foothold and enter the arena, all this foolery will be embarrassingly obvious. Unfortunately, it appears this emerging industry will be killed by these wannabe rocket scientists before it has a real chance.

    The victims of this tragedy trustfully relied on the competence of their leadership. I hope the relatives of the poor souls that were so needlessly and uselessly lost, and those victims maimed and hurt have enough sense to sue Scaled’s preverbal rear ends off. Sickening.

  • Peter Shearer

    “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
    ~John F Kennedy

    We choose to pursue space tourism despite the naysayers, despite the hardships to come, despite the dangers and despite the tradegy. “Space is there and we will climb it.” Not for profit, but because we long to go, we dream of experiencing it for ourselves.

    Those men died doing what they loved, doing something to achieve their dreams and our dreams. They are our HEROs and we honor them by continuing their work despite those that would have us give up.

    WE as a human species are a species of explorers. We have grown and survived by exploring and expanding, both in territory and knowledge… We’ve explored the earth and the seas, now we will venture out into space… We will not leave it to a select few and we will not leave it to R/C toys (as much as I applaud the long lasting rovers on Mars).

    Exploration is dangerous. It ALWAYS has been, and always will be. We accept that.

    “Space is a risky business.” ~Gus Grissum

  • T.Sgobba - IAASS President

    The Personal Spaceflight industry needs to pay more attention to safety and leave out the bold and generic statements we have heard up to now. Cutting costs is essential for the PS industry development but shall not involve cutting on safety and betting on risk acceptance by the customer. In the words of Jerome Lederer, father of aviation safety: “Of the major incentives to improve safety, by far the most compelling is that of economics. The moral incentive, which is most evident following an accident, is more intense but is relatively short lived.”

    IAASS – International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety

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