Bad News Flybys

Yow. For the commercial as well as civil space sectors this week, the hits just kept on coming.

First, in the wake of the
fatal explosion yesterday on the ground at Mojave Air and Space Port: to the families of the injured and lost Scaled Composites employees, deep condolences. Unfortunately the tragedy involving a serious mishap during testing of rocket motor components hangs a cloud over the private spaceflight world. As everyone knows, however, accidents are a reality for many an innovative industry on its way to developing and innovating safe new technologies.

In offering its "deepest sympathies," the
Personal Spaceflight Federation said: "We will await the results of the investigation before further comment, but we have complete confidence that the causes of the incident will be found in due course."

Indeed, as investigations proceed, and all the appropriate agencies and officials weigh in, much will follow in terms of the implications -- procedural, regulatory, business and otherwise -- of yesterday's setback at Mojave. For now, godspeed to Burt Rutan, and the company's workers and friends out in California.

Meanwhile over at NASA...

Well. The agency accustomed to all kinds of scrutiny and attention must feel like crawling under a moon rock after this brutal week. Nonstop jokes, satire and
"hangover headlines" (couldn't resist that link) mercilessly followed a string of reports which included the likes of a finding (well, just "mindboggling" allegations so far) that a few astronauts flew on shuttle missions while intoxicated (no really -- how is that even possible?), news of apparent "sabotage" of equipment bound for the International Space Station, an incident involving embezzling of $150,000 by a former employee, not to mention a ridiculous 50-page GAO report (GAO-07-432) that slapped the agency around for some petty property management issues. Yikes. (Need a drink, NASA?)

For now -- as I hold off on previously planned mundane flybys, such as, oh, some satellite radio merger/FCC developments, an update on FAA's amateur rocket rulemaking, and other undramatic things -- let us stop and note at least the one bit of good news:

This week is almost over.

(A battered Wall Street is grateful about it, too.)

* * *
UPDATE: Here is a CNN video of deputy adminitrator Shane Dale responding today to the agency's panel which found instances -- which I still cannot believe -- of drunk astronauts on shuttle flights. O'Doul's anyone?

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