Mistakes are for learning, even with rockets!


Rockets at lunch

I have a habit at lunch. When I’m not eating with friends, I take the opportunity to make it a learning opportunity. I’ve got a couple of go-to channels I frequent:

I’ll watch things and learn about gravity waves. Or information that I used to prepare to view this summer’s eclipse.

This practice leads to some fun suggested videos. Today I found a great one posted by SpaceX. The video is a compilation of many of their failures while attempting to land their rockets after use. Not only the concept of reusable rockets awesome, this video is quite entertaining to watch as well. These things are expensive and they’ve lost way more than one. However, once they have them fully recoverable, and SpaceX’s results are getting better, then they’ll be able to drop the cost of launching to low-earth orbit significantly. The video is below.

So what?

What’s so great about this? Other than the fact that it’s just fun to watch rockets crash and burn (and eventually land), it’s a great example of a company that seems so amazing and future looking, embracing risk and failure. To reach their eventual goal of being able to reuse rockets, they have to go through the learning process of figuring out how to land rockets after use. This creates some spectacular crashes, but they’re learning every time (why else would they have all of these videos available?). Now, not only can they soft-land them on land, they can land the rockets on a floating platform at sea. Every mistake gives them more information on potential failures, thus giving them more data to solve problems with.

But wait, there’s more!

This is cool and all, and it’s fun to watch, and it’s clear they’re improving, but there’s one more benefit. They have great footage that they’ve shared. It’s interesting and compelling and draws more publicity to the SpaceX brand. To prove they’re not all failures, they even include a success video. They show several failures and by that time, you’re rooting for them to succeed, then they do. Talk about capitalizing on their mistakes.

Next time you fail, think about what you can take away from it. Some of the best discoveries come from unexpected outcomes. Don’t be afraid of failure, embrace it as a growth opportunity. What’s your most successful mistake?

Image Credits: Peter Lindberg