Elon Musk's SpaceX has made great strides in its quest for reusable space rockets, but—as is to be expected—it's also tripped up many times on that path. To win some, you need to lose a lot.
Luckily, SpaceX is a company that can laugh at itself. And on Thursday, it invited the world to laugh along with it, by posting a blooper reel of its many mishaps. The video, which shows explosions in the air and on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, is entitled: "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster."
The quixotic nature of the material is amplified by its wryly-chosen musical score: the Monty Python theme tune or, as it is more properly known, John Philip Sousa's "Liberty Bell" march.
SpaceX's video begins with a hard ocean impact back in September 2013, before showing soft water landings in April and July 2014—on that second occasion, the booster fell over and broke apart.
However, the fun really starts with an August 2014 incident in which the rocket went up and, thanks to an engine sensor failure, tipped over in the air and dramatically exploded, scattering debris all over the place. "It's just a scratch," the caption reads.
September 2014? Ran out of liquid oxygen. January 2015? Ran out of hydraulic fluid, sending the rocket crashing to the ground in a fireball. "Well, technically it did land…just not in one piece."
"Look, that's not an 'explosion.' It's just a rapid unscheduled disassembly," reads the hilarious caption to the fairly apocalyptic-looking result of an issue with a sticky throttle valve in April 2015.
Failures from 2016 are represented four times: the collapse of a landing leg in January; a failed landing burn in March; a "radar glitch" in May that sent the booster sliding back and forth on the droneship's deck, damaging its landing legs; and a swear-prompting tip-over and explosion in June, which was caused by propellant running out.
One notable omission from the video was the September 2016 launch pad explosion and fire that destroyed not only one of its Falcon 9 rockets, but also an Israeli communications satellite that it was supposed to take into orbit. The June 2015 failure of a mission to resupply the International Space Station is also absent.
Naturally, the video ends by celebrating a couple of key successes too: the first successful landing on land in December 2015, and the first successful droneship landing in April 2016. "You are my everything," it concludes.
Earlier this month, SpaceX announced it had successfully tested the first-stage booster for its heavy-lift Falcon Heavy rocket, which will be crucial for Musk's Mars-colonization plans. Last week, Musk also showed off the space suit design for the crew of the firm's planned manned flights—due for lift-off next year.