The September 1 explosion of a Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral will undoubtedly raise concern among customers about how reliable SpaceX’s main product offering is. This is the second time in 14 months Falcon 9 has suffered a catastrophic loss. SpaceX’s rival for military business, United Launch Alliance, has never had a similar event in ten years of operations. That’s 110 launches without a mishap. So now the Air Force has to be reflecting on the fact that SpaceX may soon be responsible for lofting vital national-security satellites into orbit. And NASA has to be wondering about whether it really wants to put astronauts on a rocket that has blown up twice in 14 months. Any way you look at it, this is a big setback for SpaceX, not to mention government efforts to bring more competition to the launch sector. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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