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Accidents Happen

I don’t have anything direct to add to what’s already been said about the Scaled Composites accident in Mojave this week, the news of which has been captured well by Rand Simberg and Clark Lindsay. It’s a sad event, but ultimately it is something we should expect to happen as the space industry develops. No industry is immune from deadly accidents, however much we would like it to be otherwise, and the steps we take to avoid them may reduce their occurrence but will never completely eliminate them.

Rand expresses some concern that people like Jim Oberstar will use this developmental accident as a justification for imposing more regulation on alt.space. Maybe so, but at least alt.space is not as politicized as NASA — I find it hard to imagine that there will be a protracted stand-down at Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic while an in-depth investigation is conducted, hearings are held, fingers are pointed, and huge sums are money are spent on new tools and technologies to very publicly close the specific barn door involved. Alt.space cannot afford this sort of theater if it is ever to become a significant industry.

The dead must be mourned, yes, but the work must continue.

1 comment to Accidents Happen

  • OSHA involvement certainly worries me. I have seen OSHA bring facilities and companies to their knees with fines, and on-going drawn-out lengthily legalities. I hope this is not the case with Scaled. However I fear this tragedy has opened the door for OSHA to play big brother with Scaled and alt. space in general. I’m all for being safety conscience, following known procedures and guidelines. However those involved in risky activities should do so knowingly and willing accept the possibility of death or injury. I hope the threat of (lawsuits) legal retribution, fines and insurance does not become as great as to squelch the American spirit of entrepreneurial exploration