NDAs help Elon Musk's exploding rocket problem stay in the dark

Originally published at: NDAs help Elon Musk's exploding rocket problem stay in the dark | Boing Boing


“…those entities have also sought to keep those NDAs private despite ongoing relationships with the company.”

It’s NDAs all the way down.


This is the problem with handing the reins for your space program to a private entity. NASA being a public agency has much better visibility and accountability.


Yup. If we’re gonna let private companies do this, we’d better start regulating them, and fast. There needs to be accountability and transparency before something really bad happens. The Starship explosion is tantamount to a minor industrial accident, having blanketed the town with concrete dust and who knows what else. It should be treated a lot more seriously than it seems to be being treated right now. The next accident will be worse.

What happens when astronauts are killed and we find out SpaceX isn’t even tracking service history, logistical trails, or inventory on their parts so no investigation is possible?

Everyone knows the story of Apollo 13 by now, but what most people don’t know is that NASA was able to investigate that accident after the fact and find out exactly what happened. They determined with high likelihood that the oxygen tank that failed did so because it was sitting on a bottom shelf when in storage and was probably kicked by a janitor or similar at some point, causing the valve to be knocked into something which led to it leaking. As a result, NASA changed the way they store pressure tanks in the warehouse. NASA can do this because their record keeping is intense and detailed. Furthermore every single detail of it is public. I know all this because a guy wrote a book about it, and that guy was able to simply go ask NASA for all this information and they gave it to him.

Can SpaceX do this level of fault analysis? Will they give a random book author their data upon request? I think we know those answers. I don’t know why anyone trusts SpaceX with anything, frankly.


The strategy of taking risks, then when there’s a failure, learning from it and correcting the problems might have its merits, but the cause of this failure seems to have been damage from the entirely foreseeable inadequate launch pad.

All they really learned is that Musk is stupid, and how are they going to correct that?


Elon using texan law to hide shit? Kinda called it a few days ago :rofl:


With SpaceX, I expect anyone asking asking questions runs the risk of getting doxxed by Musk and harrassed into oblivion by the fanbois.

I have worked space-based products in the past and the amount of closeout paperwork is staggering. We used to joke that the rocket can’t launch until the paperwork weighs more than the rocket. All this paperwork is accessible to all (not in digital form necessarily, but accessible).


If it’s funded by tax money- the same disclosure laws should apply as to any government activity.


Meme Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon

miss jay gif GIF

Saint Reagan and Saint Thatcher will have a sad!!! /s

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i think that’s how you pronounce “externalized costs.” it’s always cheaper when you don’t have to worry about the effects of your actions

the whole nda thing for a government entity is wild. i can see there being times when information needs to be restricted, but that should be subject to legislation not contracts

( next up: elected officials start opening llcs so they can sign contracts with themselves and hide everything they do. just like the founders intended )


Definitely need to ensure the regulations are in place, and then reviews done properly. There was an environmental review done prior to the launch, now they need to ensure that the review is reviewed - was the process too lax, did SpaceX knowingly mislead or was it a lack of understanding. What controls need to be put in place before any future launch?

That’s probably taking it a little too far, SpaceX is providing a service to Nasa, and carrying Nasa employees on board. Nasa is already working closely to ensure that crew services meet their rules and standards. If they don’t provide what Nasa needs for those missions, no crew will fly.
Also to fly from Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center/Vandenburg, SpaceX need to provide what is requested to the operators of those facilities.

Will the Federal Agencies to do the due diligence to the required standard, let’s hope so.

“threatening public safety with rocket shrapnel blown into fishing spots and the community”

Which launch caused this?

And hopefully as a result of this debacle NASA will do a series of sweeping compliance inspections. Are SpaceX performing NDI testing on every weld or are they only doing spot checks.? Are SpaceX including closeout photos taken with proper reaolution requirements or are they just using someone’s phone? Are they recording results of pressure checks on all vessels or performing batch testing and recording an average result etc…


Any other questions?

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It’s not taking it too far to insist that SpaceX have the same record keeping and transparency standards that NASA does.

NASA, of course, has to certify the vehicle is crew-safe, obviously. I just hope that they are also enforcing transparency and record keeping. If they are, great. If not, when SpaceX has their own Apollo 1, Apollo 13, Challenger, or Columbia, well, it’s going to be a dark day when we can’t find out what went wrong (or they decide to cover it up). It will happen. Spaceflight is dangerous.

If NASA is enforcing those standards on them, great. It hasn’t been talked about much either way and SpaceX is spinning this accident as hard as they can, which is not a good sign. It certainly doesn’t indicate a culture of transparency and honesty at the company.


How long did it take for reviews and detailed information to come out after the Shuttle disasters? These things take time to do properly.

It is early days after the launch so we should expect more information to come out. One thing that is a concern (which SpaceX raised) is that it took 40 seconds for their flight termination command to take effect, that is far too long and the FAA will need that to be addressed before any future launch attempt.

Well I know no more than you, but you don’t get to do 61 launches in a year successfully including reusing boosters if you are skimping on your inspections.

Whatever you might think of their test program, their production program is running well.

If they’d had their own Soviet N1 explosion on the pad, then there would have been a lot more than some smashed pickups.

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So it was this one out of all the ones that have blown up over the years that caused complaints about rocket shrapnel? Thanks for clearing that up…