Woke up today to the news of the SpaceX rocket getting destroyed in a pre-launch fire. SpaceX has made commendable progress in establishing commercial space launches after NASA let go of the monopoly. Considering the amount of progress SpaceX has done in the past five-six years, the speed is tremendous.

I couldn’t help, but compare the development process seemingly adopted by SpaceX in comparison to Software developed using Agile development practices in modern projects. The lesson staring at me right away was that Agile development practices help bring down the risks involved in software development. This directly results from the fact that the development teams expose their progress and understanding through demonstrations in small increments of time. Thus, helping catch communication gaps and reset targets and expectations continuously.

However, in a space programme where there is a need to blend “advanced rocket science” with reliability and robustness given the budget involved, outcomes desired and the risk appetite of the stakeholders, iterating quickly definitely means discounting risks in at least some of the variables.

SpaceX or any space company for that matter, might take measures to rein in the risks that prove costly in their iterations.

But, with risks popping up in other factors and variables, would manned missions to Mars
still be feasible or even viable?

By shashi

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