Inclusiveness and accountability are not mutually exclusive. The space sector will not progress if we cannot learn from our mistakes

SpaceX Should Not Fear Transparency

By —— Bio and Archives--November 30, 2017

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SpaceX Should Not Fear Transparency
On Sunday, Elon Musk of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity fame tweeted that “public risks require public oversight.” I hope that SpaceX—or NASA—is not exempting Musk’s own company from this very rule.

Per Vice President Mike Pence, the Trump administration resurrected the National Space Council so “America will lead in space once again.” That goal is likely not feasible unless every company puts the interests of American spaceflight above its own public relations concerns.

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, had two blunders this month. On Nov. 17th, SpaceX’s Zuma mission, in which it was tasked with launching a secret government payload from the Kennedy Space Center, was delayed indefinitely after days of deadline pushbacks. Earlier in the month, the company’s Block 5 Merlin engine—which is supposed to eventually power astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS)—exploded in McGregor, Texas.

Yes, SpaceX has proven its worth by sometimes reducing costs by significant margins and spicing things up for NASA. Just because it is a viable player does not mean its failures should not be carefully analyzed for the good of the space industry at large.

Mistakes happen; the important thing is that they are learned from so that more taxpayer dollars are not wasted and government missions are not continuously delayed, as has been the norm. In statements, SpaceX seems to be taking the high road on its recent problems, but past investigations into the company have understandably given political analysts some concern.

Two years ago, one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets went up in flames during an ISS mission. NASA originally said it would look into the issue and release an open report by the summer of 2017. This summer, it changed its tune. Yet, earlier, Orbital ATK, another aerospace manufacturer, had a similar failure that fell under the same CRS program as the SpaceX one and was also FAA-licensed, similarly involving a rocket type slated for retirement. NASA put out that summary within a year.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) was right: the handling difference between these two cases “raises questions about not only the equity and fairness of NASA’s process for initiating independent accident investigations, but also the fidelity of the investigations themselves.”

NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) found that the investigation SpaceX lead may have reached an inaccurate conclusion, and there could be multiple reasons for the failure. We may never know what the true cause of the incident was. Perhaps due to this uncertainty, a year later, another Falcon 9 rocket blew up, leading to a whole new round of setbacks. This demonstrates how restricting transparency may shield companies from short-term public relations pressure, but it does no one any good in the long-run.

I am by no means trying to discourage the government from utilizing the services that SpaceX brings to the table. If we are to “unlock the mysteries of space,” as President Donald J. Trump stated in his Inaugural Address, it will require active participation from every aerospace manufacturer.

Inclusiveness and accountability are not mutually exclusive. The space sector will not progress if we cannot learn from our mistakes. Let’s hope SpaceX gives the market the opportunity it needs to mature and grow.

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Megan Barth -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Articles with Katy Grimes

Megan Barth is the founder and proprietor of Reaganbabe.com, Co-Chair of the Media Equality Project, and a nationally recognized political commentator.  She is a weekly cohost for WAR-The Wayne Allyn Root Show out of Las Vegas, NV and has appeared on Headline News CNN, NewsMax TV, One America News Network, The Blaze Radio, Lars Larson, Bill Cunningham, and has regular weekly appearances on nationally syndicated radio shows. Her op-eds have been published in Canada Free Press, The Hill, American Thinker and the Daily Caller.  For interviews or speaking engagements, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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