The Relationship Between Rocket Science and Human Resource Management

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SPACE X VIA FLICKR

The picture froze, reviving moments later to a few frames showing a bright ball of light hurdling towards the platform. And then, the screen cut to color bars.

Did the rocket land?

Yesterday Elon Musk’s Space X fired the Falcon 9 rocket on a mission to send the SES-9 telecommunications satellite into space. Catapulting the payload into orbit was the mission’s main purpose but aerospace enthusiasts around the world tuned in to see if the reusable rocket could complete its experimental secondary mission: attempting to make the first landing on a drone ship in the ocean.

Musk, who is also the founder of electric car company Tesla Motors, later confirmed that the rocket crash-landed on the drone ship. This came as no surprise to Musk himself, who was saying well before the mission that he expected the landing to fail. Announcing failure before the mission even launched is an uncomfortable brand of rhetoric, one that illuminates Musk’s preference of logic and probability over faith in the thousands of Space X employees working around the clock for him.

But it’s this robotic determinism – which in his case literally involves shooting to the stars – that makes Musk one of the great inventors of our time. It also helps that he’s deeply involved in a space race with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who successfully launched and landed the reusable New Shepherd rocket in January under his space exploration company, Blue Origin.

Comparing the two programs is comparing apples to oranges; the much smaller New Shepherd project is being designed to take people to the edge of space while the Falcon 9 is commercially sending satellites into orbit. But the independent successes of Blue Origin and SpaceX aren’t solely attributed to the two —> Read More

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