“Close but no cigar this time”

January 14, 20151 minute read

— Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, speaking matter-of-factly after the company’s Falcon 9 rocket booster missed the soft platform landing it was intended to make after a successful liftoff on January 3. SpaceX operates today’s most far-reaching supply chain as it shuttles supplies to the International Space Station.

The attempt, if successful, would have been a first for ocean landings for rocket boosters returning from space. Until now, rocket engines typically either burn-up on reentry or fall into the ocean, where they are either recovered or disposed of. SpaceX attempted to bring the 14-story-tall section down softly on a floating landing pad.

(Side note: SpaceX’s president and COO is Gwynne Shotwell. Her remarkable and inspiring career was profiled in the Northwestern University alumni magazine in 2012.)

Musk has spoken before about accepting risk as part of innovation, saying that “greatness doesn’t lie in simply not having fears in the first place, but rather in moving past them.”

Closer to home, several participants in AWESOME discussions talked about being willing to face fears and accept risk in their own careers. As one of the 2014 Symposium panelists said, “Nothing beats the school of hard knocks – those moments, whether it’s personally or professionally where you fall down, …You get smarter and stronger from experiences like that.” Read more comments from the 2015 Symposium in Reality Check – Volume Three.

Read more about the mission.