Friday, August 7, 2015

The smallest things

In 1986 the Challenger exploded and this year SpaceX CSR7 also failed. While the first was a human tragedy and the second an economic and scientific failure there is a lot to be learned.

There are certain things we take for granted in system design; whether it's o-rings or tank struts. We have an obligation to test and monitor all the things we depend on when designing any type of system.

  • if you're laying concrete then the mixture is important
  • building a roof then wood rot might be important
  • when composing an application with 3rd party libraries it's important to know if there are any bugs
  • if a subcontractor says a strut is supposed to support 10K and only supports 2K
  • or if you have no idea what the operating environment for an o-ring might be
There is no doubt that verifying everything you depend on is costly and so that's where the cost benefit analysis needs to be done. If the cost is too high then maybe it's the wrong design, wrong tools, or the business is not worth entering.

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