News & Opinion | July 6, 2018 11:13 am

This Is Why You Should Never Prebook Your Return Flight From a Rocket Launch

If you do, you'll probably miss the launch.

rocket launch
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
NASA via Getty Images

There are three unspoken rules to follow when traveling to a rocket launch. The first two are easy: Bring snacks and wear sunscreen. But the third is where people mess up: Don’t book your flight home for the night after the scheduled takeoff, because if you do, you’ll probably miss the launch. A company called Rocket Lab hopes to send rockets built specifically for smaller satellites to space, but of three total launch attempts, zero have happened. Rocket Lab 3-D-prints their engines and aims to launch one rocket per month, but it has so far been cautious about actually shooting them up.

“We’re a conservative bunch of people,” says Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, according to Wired. “We’ll fly when everything is great.”

No rocket launch company can be 100 percent successful, 100 percent of the time. Even aerospace vehicles like the Falcon 9 explode. Virgin Galatic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed and the Russian Proton failed at launch and crashed into the spaceport. Customers understand that and are usually willing to wait — but not forever.