I Thought It Got Whacked By An Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator

Memo to the Europeans: this isn’t the way you learn how to fix stuff:

The Government and European space chiefs yesterday refused to publish the full report into the loss of the Beagle 2 Mars probe, even though British taxpayers contributed more than


14 Responses to “I Thought It Got Whacked By An Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator”

  1. Michael M Says:

    Oh, rabbit!! You make me so aaaaaangry!!

  2. lpdbw Says:

    Good, fast, cheap. Choose (at most) two.
    There is no guarantee you’ll even get those two without hard work and luck.

  3. Niall Says:

    The reason better faster cheeper failed in this case was that the budget did not support the fourth command. REPEAT. The idea Dan Golden had was instead of making $1 billion probe to go to Mars you make 10 $100 million ones instead. The idea being that you will get more for the same amount with some accepted failures. This was what our probes to Mars have done. We have had 3 rovers, and two satelight missions work. And we had two failures from which we learned things (even if its only to agree on which units system to use from the ground up rather than converting later). We now have much more information than we did after landing the two Viking missions back in the 70’s, as we have now seen much more than we would were it not for the smaller projects.

    Its whe you remove that key step that so many of us ignore on the shampoo bottle that you run into trouble in rocket science. And of course you have to learn from your mistakes, which ESA does not seem to be willing to publish. All we know is how to fix this one, not what went wrong and how to fix other projects. Thats strike two guys….and the Ariane V makes three?

    Of course the problem Dan Golden and NASA had was that the press latches on to any failure and tries to make another scandle out of it. Thank god they didn’t create another ****gate out of it.

  4. David R Beatty Says:

    Isn’t it the PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator? 😉

    At any rate, funny stuff.

  5. Patti Says:

    Hey, what “Different kind of open” society can they be? Anyway, one of the faults of the British is that they’ll consider preserving someone’s reputation way more important than sharing truth. Even if that someone is an idiot who wasted 22 mil pounds sterling.

  6. Stephen Says:

    My step-father Robert T. (God rest his soul), Battalion Fire-Chief and “jackleg” engineer had the best engineering advice:

    “You can’t go wrong if you go strong”

  7. Felding Says:

    It’s a good thing european scientists are not on the frontlines against islamic terror, just like it’s a good thing european military is not the main bulwark against the islamist tide.

    Not quite ready for prime time. And with eur-abia on its way, will they ever?

  8. David Gillies Says:

    Us software engineers have a similar motto: “On Time. Zero Defects. Pick One.”

  9. Robin Goodfellow Says:

    There are numerous examples of successful “faster, better, cheaper” missions that prove it’s a workable concept. That does NOT mean that merely hacking off a project’s budget and time schedule automatically makes it better, the devil is, as they say, in the details, and it’s important to get those right. It’s worthwhile to point out, for example, that the 4 American spacecraft currently orbiting around or driving on Mars collectively cost roughly the same as the single, failed, Mars Observer spacecraft (adjusting for inflation) built under the old “spend a billion dollars on it and launch one a decade” plan. And I think those missions certainly classify as a lot “better” than Mars Observer managed.

    Beagle 2 is an excellent example of how there is no sure fire, simple, easy way to tack that “better” on to the faster and cheaper. FBC is not just a gimmick, it can work, but it takes effort and good management.

  10. The Other John Hawkins Says:

    I guess Beagle was successful too then, just successful in a different way.

    It kept some bumbling eurocrats in their phony-baloney jobs for a while, maybe.

  11. The Other John Hawkins Says:

    I guess Beagle was successful too then, just successful in a different way.

    It kept some bumbling eurocrats in their phony-baloney jobs for a while, maybe.

  12. Peter the Not-so-Great Says:

    “Prof David Southwood, the ESA’s director of science, defended the decision, claiming that things were ‘done differently’ in Europe.”

    How pathetic can you get? You could almost hear him thinking, “After all, honesty and straightforwardness are the hallmarks of dim-witted, red-necked American cowboys…we Euros have to be more subtle and nuanced about these things.”

    I hope the nineteen recommendations include giving some high-profile managers the sack; they could start with the esteemed Prof. Southwood.

  13. Ed Says:

    It is possible that they will publish more details, but remember that in the US failure analysis is considered a national security matter. Loral corp got hammered for helping China on a failure analysis & all they really said was “no that’s not right, maybe you should look here”.
    Now, NASA has to publish because of the scale of the disaster, and because so many voters don’t think the money is well spent. They would rather have another few billion of pork handed out by congress. You will not see a private company (even or especially a defense contractor) detail failings to such a degree in the press. I know the EU likes to hide all their failings, but there may be some sense to less information in this case.

  14. Dean Says:


    But you highlighted the difference yourself:

    The ESA is not a private company. It is paid for, AFAIK, by European tax-payers. (EADS IS a private company, although even that is paid for by subsidies from the European gov’ts.)

    More to the point, NASA and ESA are civilian space agencies. Beagle’s failures are not like the failures of a recon satellite.

    Finally, yes, Loral got raked over the coals. Quite probably unfairly. Their problem was handing the report over to the Chinese, not writing the report or undertaking the analysis. If ESA were working w/ the Chinese on this (as opposed, say, to “Double Star”), one might understand the reluctance.

    This, however, looks like simply a way of sweeping problems under the rug.

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