Project Morpheus: Hard Lessons and Lean Engineering
I shouldn't be too hard on the guys working on this project, but honestly, I could have told them a lot of things that would have helped prevent their crash. I actually know some of the people on the Morpheus team, as I went to school or worked with them. Of course, one of the goals of this project is to give the civil servants experience in designing and building stuff, which I imagine a great many of them have never really done. They have experience in overseeing the work of the contractors which design and build their stuff, and in using that stuff, but they don't really quite understand everything that goes into the work without actually doing that work themselves.
I just love how when they crashed and burned that the NASA administrator (!) got on the phone to reassure them that the project would not be cancelled. Well, wasn't that sweet of him? Good Lord, wouldn't want them to be afraid of losing their jobs like the guys working on the Delta Clipper for McDonnell Douglas did!
It's almost always a simple error. For Morpheus, induced vibrations caused the IMU connector to come loose. For DC-X, a faulty or unconnected hydraulic line caused one of the four landing legs to not deploy. For Apollo 13, it was a faulty electronic part that caused a tank explosion. For Challenger, the O-ring failed because of cold temperatures. For Columbia, a chunk of foam falling off the ET. The list goes on and on. It's hard to always be perfect, but I just can't help but think that these guys' inexperience and hubris ("We're Civil Servants, and we're AWESOME, we know so much more than those scummy contractors") were at play here.
Have fun with your tinkertoy lander guys. Yes, I'm jealous, I would rather be out screwing around on that project than sitting in my cubicle actually working on something real.