Thursday, November 20, 2014

FAITH, Hope and Tragedy: Engineers Cope With SpaceShipTwo Loss

NBC News put a human face to engineers behind the machines. One of them is a reliability engineer

Will Robertson, 38, is engineering manager for reliability, maintainability and safety at The Spaceship Company. He analyzes and addresses engineering risks for SpaceShipTwo as well as the WhiteKnightTwo mothership. Will Robertson discusses how the crash relates to assessing the risks associated with flight testing:
"Part of my job is definitely thinking about this all the time, which I do a whole lot of. But in the absence of bad events, you just think about them, right? When one hits, you realize, wow, there are so many things you have to consider. ... There's always going to be second-guessing. I think it's human nature to do that. We're going to learn from it. I'm going to learn from this, and I'm going to make the systems more reliable, more fault-tolerant."
 This is most reliability engineers have to deal with, in the absence of extreme events, you just "think" about it. Only when it hits, it hurts. Only when it hurts, one start to reexamine all those being taken for granted. It is hard to be a reliability engineer.

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