Admit it: you might have rolled your eyes at Elon Musk when he first proposed landing reusable rocket boosters on autonomous seafaring barges to dramatically cut the cost of orbital travel. Then he went and did the damn thing. Last Thursday, SpaceX marked the twelfth consecutive successful landing attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket, and Musk has decided to celebrate their progress with the most explosion-filled (and expensive) blooper reel you've likely ever seen.
There's an old quote about failure often attributed to Thomas Edison, and while he may not have actually said it, it rings true here: I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. And considering that a.) no one was injured in any of these incidents and b.) no customer payloads were destroyed, it's pretty easy to play a semantic game and argue that these fireballs weren't failures at all.
Indeed, the video's cheeky "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster" and Monty Python theme music all indicate that to Musk, accidentally blowing up hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment into tiny little pieces was simply the cost of doing business. Watching things go boom is always a good way to waste two minutes, but it's also satisfying to see the progress SpaceX made from first attempting a "soft water" landing as a proof of concept to nailing the robo-barge landing with aplomb.
But the work isn't over—the process is far from foolproof yet. In releasing the video, Musk also tweeted that the next goal is to perfect reusable upper state rocket and fairing systems, at which point he claims the cost could drop by a factor of 100. If and when that happens, we hope we'll get to see another one of these excellent clips showing the flame-filled path to progress.