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The SUCCESS mythology in space development

The damage of the ‘success’ mythology is apparent when you look at the disasters in the space program. Challenger – when engineers were protesting they shouldn’t launch, and the managers overruled them. And Columbia, when engineers brought up the concept that maybe some damage had been done by the piece of foam, and they should look at it more closely, but managers overruled them, because no damage had happened before.

My favorite quote about farming is: 20 percent of farming is agriculture, and 80 percent is fixing stuff that got broke.


We have overlooked the fixing stuff aspect of space travel for too long. And now the environment around Earth is littered with dangerous debris. We expect the Space Station to be continuously developing new technologies, and making progress in science – but I bet most of their time and effort goes to cleaning things, and fixing stuff that got broke.


I’ve taken my family on many vacation trips and have never had a tire blow out on one, but still, when I’m getting ready to return home, I circle the car and the trailer, and kick the tires, and shake the trailer hitch to see if they are still good. Maybe I’m paranoid, but after I leave the campsite, I stop a few feet down the road and then go back for a last search of the campsite to see if we have left anything.


We need to develop an expectation that stuff will break, and need cleaning, and expect to fix it and clean it up, look for breakage and messes, expect to spend 80% of the time fixing them, and STILL be productive.

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