As an Agile enthusiast, I can’t help but be excited about the SpaceX launch today. This is why (WARNING: contains spoilers – watch the webcast first! http://www.spacex.com/webcast):

  • It was iterative. This is not the final thing. We’re not launching humans to Mars yet. This is a great example of sharing work early to get feedback and engage stakeholders (and the public). And it’s taken a number of iterations to even get to this point.
  • A sponsor with skin in the game. Hello? Who risks their super expensive car unless it’s important?
  • Automation rules. At the 1-minute mark, the controls get handed to the computers. That’s right people, the important jobs should be done by the computers.
  • The people responsible for the work showcased the work. For most of the webcast, we did not see Elon Musk, only his team. That’s a sponsor who trusts his team and knows they’re the best to talk to the work.
  • Reusability may be an expensive quality attribute but totally worth working towards. Booster rockets are expensive!
  • Celebrate often. The vision of SpaceX is to make human beings a multi-planetary species. We’re not going to achieve that overnight. Breaking work up into small pieces means we can test often and celebrate as we achieve goals iteratively.
  • Set stretch goals. The two booster rockets landed perfectly as planned (you cannot look at this without marvelling at the magic of technology and automation). The stretch was the centre core. It’s okay to set big goals and not quite make it every time.

Watch the whole thing here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast. Then watch it again!

ps: Did anyone catch the reference to The Martian? When Matt Damon’s character is famous for saying: “Yeah, I get to go faster than any man in the history of space travel, because you’re launching me in a convertible”. Well played SpaceX, well played!

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”

— ELON MUSK, CEO AND LEAD DESIGNER, SPACEX