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Watch SpaceX blow up a lot of rockets while trying to land them

Steve Dent

During the early days of SpaceX's rocket landing attempts failure was definitely an option, so instead getting depressed, Elon Musk embraced it. Knowing that everyone loves a good (harmless) explosion, he just released a full-on fail highlight reel of the early attempts, set to the Monty Python theme and accompanied by Arnold-like quips. "It's just a scratch," he said, after one booster was deliberately blown to pieces due to an engine sensor failure.

You can reminisce to all the greatest hits of those early days. That includes a last-minute fin failure due to a lack of hydraulic fluid ("technically it did land... but not in one piece"), throttle valve "stiction" followed by a painfully slow topple ("Look, that's not an explosion, it's just a 'rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD)'"), landing leg collapse ("entropy... is such a lonely word"), a landing burn failure ("the course of true love never did run smooth"), and the final barge failure, when the booster ran out of propellant ('#$@&%*?!^&^%^$!," I think).

The video ends with the first successful pad landing and first successful droneship landing so we don't finish with a bad taste in our mouths. In a tweet (below), Elon Musk recalls the "long road to re-usability of Falcon 9 primary boost stage," and adds that "when upper stage & fairing also reusable, costs will drop by a factor > 100."

Over a year has passed since the disastrous pad explosion that halted SpaceX flights for the better part of three months. Since then, the Falcon 9 has been flying at a breakneck pace (13 missions), and has landed its booster successfully in 10 consecutive attempts, including several with recycled boosters. WIth the video, Musk was no doubt using his mathematically-oriented mind to follow the formula: Comedy = tragedy + time.

Elon Musk (Instagram)