Wow, what will Elon Musk do next? Just a few years ago, back when we were still deciding if “FourFiveSeconds” called for a full-fledged think piece or a mere tweet, the idea that Musk proposed on Thursday would have seemed in poor taste, maybe even un-American.
Now, Musk is set to do what might have been unfathomable in June 2015 after we all witnessed a fiery, failed SpaceX endeavor, a would-be mission to the International Space Station, paid for by NASA. The Falcon 9 exploded in the clear blue Florida sky that summer day.
And yet, SpaceX is learning to laugh at its failures, if not of the launching sort. Musk says the company is working on a blooper reel of failed rocket landings (wisely, it’s avoiding a failed launch blooper reel). Sensing he might have been out of the news cycle for too long, Musk declared on Twitter Wednesday: “Putting together SpaceX rocket landing blooper reel. We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage …”
SpaceX hasn’t messed up a launch in some time: It’s been nearly a year to the day since a Falcon 9 rocket booster last exploded during pre-launch testing before an internet satellite paid for by Facebook was scheduled to be put into orbit.
Before that failure was the June 28, 2015, ISS failure, officially named the CRS-7 mission. If you go back to the beginning, in 2006, the very first SpaceX launch ended in an explosion, 33 seconds after lift-off. In 2007, the second attempt ended with the rocket failing to reach orbit. In 2008, when the first stage separated from the second stage of the rocket, they soon crashed into each other. Things went slowly from then until 2015.
There have been several memorable failures of the landing variety, which just feel more comical than, say, watching a glorious rocket ascend into the clear blue sky, only to explode and die before our eyes. It’s anticlimactic.
Meanwhile, watching a charred rocket clumsily trying to land on a floating drone ship, and then tip over and explode, is just the opposite. It’s a damn-near perfect ending if you’re looking for a good laugh. It practically calls out for “Yakety-Sax” to be played over it.
Here’s hoping SpaceX releases its landing blooper video strictly on VHS tapes, à la the memorably terrible sports blooper tapes of a bygone era.
September 1 is the one-year anniversary of SpaceX’s last launch-pad explosion. Maybe Musk will tweet out the landing blooper reel tomorrow.
In the meantime, the much more serious official SpaceX Twitter account revealed this news about the next mission on Thursday: Static-fire testing is complete ahead of returning the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane to orbit.