Back to the Future at SpaceX

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65 years ago, the Eisenhower Administration authorized a number one priority missile program to develop an ICBM as fast as humanly possible. That program, Atlas, combined R&D, design, development and manufacturing into one process, compressing a decade of engineering into a couple of years. It worked, but was very expensive and the prime contractor, Convair, blew up a lot of equipment getting there. Today, SpaceX is using a similar doctrine of concurrency, engineering, testing, building and flying rockets almost before the dust settles on the company’s Texas launch pad. It’s fast, but the last four test flights have ended in explosions. Can this build fast, break fast, iterate fast methodology turn out to be the best way forward?

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