DevOps in Space

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Some of the early science fiction books I read were by Robert Heinlein, often including rocket ships and space travel. These days I'm uninterested in actually going to space, but I am excited by the prospect of the efforts being made to send others. It's an exciting time to be interested in travel off of this planet.

One of the headline makers is SpaceX, which has had quite a bit of success launching reusable rockets carrying all sorts of cargo. My son was very interested in their work as an 18 year old, and I still remember taking him to Cape Canaveral and watching the first first rocket launch and land at the facility. An exciting time for us.

SpaceX has adopted a DevOps attitude towards their physical rockets, adapting and iterating quickly to improve their designs. The pace of progress is quite interesting, analogous to how some companies have changed their software development lifecycle practices, becoming quite adept at building and improving applications in a rapid fashion. Alex Yates draws some parallels, and includes lots of fascinating rocket information, in this post on the Octopus Deploy blog.

One of the big challenges I find with changing software development is that we struggle to let go of old practices. Even as we look to iterate, often we are unable to accept risk, and we often want to stick with the "always done it this way" for some things. While we might accept some changes, we don't accept others, and may even cancel out the benefits of automation improvements with a lack of willingness to adapt our culture.

I do hope that other companies challenge SpaceX, and learn from them. Ultimately we do better with a competitor that forces them to continue to improve and not rest on past success. The same is necessary for software development teams to continually improve. If your organization is stuck in a rut with software development, request (or push) for a team to try something new. To adopt and grow with DevOps. Make them prove they can build, deploy, and operate software in a better way. Then challenge other teams to try and adopt their ideas, and then improve upon them over time.

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