Regarding unintentionally falling objects

Investigating launch failures is rocket science

A control engineering professor—a one-time colleague of President APJ Abdul Kalam—offered this as career advice for those intrepid students who expressed interest in a career in space technology. “Remember” he said, “success will be spectacular. Failure, even more so”. Civilians may well be protected from falling rocket parts, but it is hard to protect rocket scientists from falling adjectives dropped by a shocked media ready to condemn them for their real and imagined failings.

The Agni-III missile and the GSLV are different vehicles, meant for very different purposes, launched by different organisations, and quite possibly their launch failure are due to very different reasons. (see Jagadish and Maverick). Both DRDO and ISRO have an incentive to investigate the reasons for their respective failures and correct them before the next launch. They should be allowed to do so. At times like this, both journalists and politicians call for independent enquiries. But it is only fair to allow both these organisations to complete their internal investigations before calling for these ‘independent’ reviews.

It is much too early to offer definitive comment. Even as they seek and report facts, it is a good idea to avoid rushing to dramatic conclusions. The launch failures by themselves do not justify passing judgement on India’s missile and space programmes.

Related Links: A historical analysis of rocket launch failures (from NASA) and an article on launch vehicle reliability.

2 thoughts on “Regarding unintentionally falling objects”

  1. Those two happenings were infact very hard to digest at the go.but the way media is covering it as said by u is utterly diapproving. i want to see a politician (more importantly the one in the opposition at the time) come out and say “it is very sad that this had happened. we appreciate the efforts of the scientists and further encourage them to come out of this” rather than calling for an enquiry which the respective department would any way do. its a long long way to go for our politicians to show such maturity..

  2. Dear Nitin,
    You always do your utmost to comprehensively scan the horizon and give the reader access to ” tons of links” and gain insight. The link to historical analysis dealing with NASA’s rocket launching failures is a Bull’s Eye thought in this context.
    A US official has also made supportive comments on the Indian Space/Missile Program efforts and spoke ( off the record ) about ” many a lesson that failure teaches you.”

    Cheers

    Swami

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