First Reactions: Space Brothers Episode 56

You know you’ve made a good point when Nanba Mutta repeats the statement almost word for word on an episode of Space Brothers airing two days later. This episode was great, and it was great because it built around dialogue that established Pico and Mutta as serious-business engineers.

It didn’t take long for Mutta to nip a serious problem in the bud. By pointing out that it would be a much better use of funds to build two model rovers, an investment in trial-and-error rather than in a one shot effort, he opens up a number of possiblities that many of the other teams likely will not explore. There’s nothing more valuable in advancing development of a product than being able to examine exactly how it fails. It is absolutely the right decision to do with things that can break, but it still takes guts to chop their existing budget, the smallest of any group’s, in half. More funds are objectively better, but the trade is worth it even without those financial constraints heating Team E’s collective creative juices to a boil. As an added plus, this allows the writer to add tension by having the first model fail before the second one hits a walk-off grand slam at the actual competition.

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As always, his body language belies his genius

Pico’s backstory was a bit of a tease, because it cut away from the guy doing the explanation every time they were about to reveal whether or not he actually designed the parachute involved in Brian Jay’s fatal crash. These days, it’s a lot more common for heavy enough foreshadowing to be a fakeout, which was the case here; Pico had a working and well-tested parachute design, but was underbid for the contract. Pico has a right to be frustrated there. While I can understand today’s NASA budget being tight, I can’t understand how a head engineer not going with the most heavily-tested product; one has to understand that simulations encompass a wider range of scenarios than will probably happen, and a failure in a simulation is one avoided in real life. The scene at the end where he poured Brian some scotch at the pub put the cap on an excellent story.

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As good a picture of loneliness as this series has drawn 

Team E is totally going to make effective use of Pico’s parachute design for their own curb-stomping CanSat design. Bet on it. Likewise, you can expect Hibito’s return to the moon to go off smooth as silk. It should definitely be fun for him to be back in Houston while Mutta continues to train.

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