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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Mexico fans react after Mexico F Julián Quiñones 73rd-minute goal during the MexTour match between Mexico and Brazil at Kyle Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
‘The stuff of dreams’
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 11, 2024

As soon as the Mexico-Brazil soccer match at Kyle Field was announced, Jacob Svetz and Caitlin Falke saw an opportunity.  The match was scheduled...

The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at halftime during Texas A&Ms football game against ULM at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.
Gridiron glory to multi-event marvel
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • June 7, 2024

Special teams: Special events  “My favorite thing about an event is seeing the people come into the stadium and seeing their excitement...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

Failure will lead to SpaceX’s success

Photo by Provided

The drone ship that SpaceX hopes will one day serve as a moveable landing pad for their stage one rockets.

Engineering is a dirty job. Engines break down, pipes burst and rockets explode — I’d be worried if they didn’t.
That’s why when SpaceX’s third attempt to land a used stage one rocket at sea was again unsuccessful, I got excited. Somewhere a group of engineers and technicians now have reams of data that tell them exactly what not to do the next time they launch a multimillion-dollar payload into orbit.
Failure is an important step in the right direction that is a painful — but absolutely necessary — part of the engineering design process. Even the most fantastic numerical model or mathematical description is worthless if a prototype refuses to work, and oftentimes the only way to prove or disprove two competing designs it to simply build both and see which one breaks first.
SpaceX’s idea to land and re-use the stage one of its Falcon 9 rockets is insane. Throw a pencil above your head and try to have it land — vertically and perfectly balanced on it’s eraser. Now imagine your pencil is a several-ton metal tube in space, plummeting back to Earth at a speed several times the speed of sound, and that your desk is a tiny barge floating in the ocean.
It’s an impossible scenario — until someone does it.
Failure in an endeavor like SpaceX’s goal of making first stage rockets reusable is not just expected — it’s a goal in itself. No one knows what it takes to re-land the rocket because no one had the nerve to try and make something unthinkable into reality. SpaceX engineers have to innovate and improvise as they go, and the best way to learn is by understanding why something failed.
Thomas Edison famously commented after his invention — the electric light bulb — gained popularity that, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
It took innumerable failures, but the end product was a triumph of engineering that forever changed the world.
SpaceX may make a perfect landing the next time they attempt to recover another stage one. Or they may fail once, twice, even a dozen more times. But each new failure brings with it new lessons, and as long as there are people willing to take risks — and invest money — in extremely risky ventures, mankind’s knowledge of how to explore and live in outer space will continue to grow.
John Rangel is an aerospace
engineering senior and the science and
technology editor for The Battalion.

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