I guess it’s not unexpected that, if I put that picture at the top of my blog, I’m going to get a lot of email and phone calls about what happened in Mojave last Thursday.
I have no idea what happened. It looks like a horrible industrial accident. (What it wasn’t was a “rocket blowing up,” or even a “rocket engine blowing up”… there wasn’t a rocket engine under test. Just some components.) There’s a investigation underway, and we’ll eventually know if it’s a design problem, or operational error, or just Murphy’s Law.
I don’t recall ever meeting any of Thursday’s victims, but I know a lot of people who knew them casually, and a few people who knew them well. And I know a lot of people just like them… engineers and technicians who have gotten tired of pretty pictures and promises from NASA, and who decided to go turn a wrench on a piece of hardware that will get us one step closer to the stars. Developing a new transportation system is always dangerous. Look back at the casualty rates in the early days of airplanes, or automobiles… or, for that matter, ocean-going sailing ships.
Priorities are to grieve for the dead, pray for the injured, and figure out what went wrong so it won’t happen again. I commend to you the statement of the Personal Spaceflight Federation, linked here.
What else should we do?
It’s currently on the main page at the National Space Society; for when it scrolls off, I will reproduce the essential elements here:
Please send contributions to:
Scaled Family Support Fund
c/o Scaled Composites, 1624 Flight Line, Mojave, CA. 93501.
Acct # 04157-66832
Wire transfer ABA Routing #1220-0066-1
Please make checks payable to the account number or to the name of the fund.
My wire transfer will be there tomorrow. Will yours?