The Falcon Heavy

In the spring of 1970 I was fortunate enough to see Apollo 13 lift off for a voyage to the moon. The Saturn V rocket was thousands of feet in the air by the time that unforgettable sound reached the viewing area. I can still hear it in my mind as I write this. The lift off was perfect, but soon into the mission we heard Commander Jim Lovell's now famous words, "Houston, we have a problem." We all know the story. Apollo 13 never landed on the moon as expected, but did use the moon's gravity to miraculously sling-shot its way safely back home to earth. The failed Apollo 13 mission became one of NASA's greatest accomplishment.

At that same location today at Cape Canaveral sits the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled to be launched February 6, 2018. It's thrust is less than half the Saturn V's, but more than twice any rocket still in production. There's a good chance the launch may not go well. Elon Musk was quoted last summer saying, "I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it dose not cause pad damage [if it explodes]." Quietly he must have some confidence, though, because the mission's payload is Musk's own red Tesla Roadster which will hopefully be blasted into orbit around the sun, where it should remain for a billion years.

Lest we ever think America's (on our own) best days are behind us, we have only to consider people like Musk, who came to this country from South Africa and who are willing to fail at great endeavors. So maybe we should all occasionally try something crazy, something that might fail. That failure could very well lead to something or someone amazing.