An image of a rocket with a progressively larger white cloud around it is shown, but no external object for scale is visible until the third panel.
It is then revealed to be a model or miniature by the relatively enormous size of Ponytail's head.
The dialogue confirms that it emits clouds of water vapour as a humidifier, which mimic the appearance of the exhaust plume of a full-size rocket.
This comic appeared the day after the death of Peter Cosgrove, who is known for photographing the launch of the space shuttle many times.
The title text references the failed o-ring that led to the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the death of all on board.
The failure of the o-ring was due to poor statistical analysis of the failure under launch conditions for that day causing the launch to be pushed forward at lower temperatures than what is acceptable.
For the humidifier to vent gas from this opening is indeed in poor taste, even though the model does not resemble a shuttle.
Richard Feynman had a famous story regarding the o-ring incident. There was a meeting where nobody could figure out why the launch had failed. They were all scratching their heads, arguing. Feynman walks into the room with an o-ring and, in front of everybody, drops it into a glass of icewater. It immediately ruptures. He then walks out. http://www.feynman.com/science/the-challenger-disaster/
Queue a boost in hits for "rocket shaped humidifier" pages. 188.8.131.52 19:26, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I've already done a search to see if this exists. Shouldn't take long for the internet to come through. Andyd273 (talk) 19:34, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I've checked but all i can find is the steam coming out of the top, not the bottom 184.108.40.206 19:39, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- I'm thinking this would be a little challenging to create, because liquid water falls out of openings that under it. Humidifiers also usually have a larger reservoir of water than that rocket. I'm thinking the simplest approach would be to place a model rocket on top of a normal humidifier. Maybe you could also make a rocket with a mini-humidifier and a tube that goes from the top to the bottom, or that plugs into a faucet rather than having a reservoir. 220.127.116.11
- I looked closer at the comic, and you can see the body of the humidifier under the rocket. It may actually be a model rocket on top of a normal humidifer. 18.104.22.168 21:40, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
How disappointing. All of the examples a quick search brought up emit mist from the tip, instead of the exhaust. 22.214.171.124 19:38, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes! I want one! (A PROPER one, with exhaust.) 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- But then the water reservoir might be limited to what fits into the rocket (see the comments above). Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 06:36, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
- Seems like making the base the humidifier and the rocket just a model on top would get around that problem. Tarcas (talk) 14:59, 25 February 2019 (UTC)
- Surely the most elegant solution is to just build a model rocket with a miniature hydrogen engine? --188.8.131.52 10:13, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
- Maybe use the launch platform as a reservoir and pipe the water to a humidifier in the rocket? 184.108.40.206 15:18, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
What does it mean if a rocket is venting steam from its nose, anyway? 220.127.116.11 19:59, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- You are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.18.104.22.168 20:18, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Nothing Good 22.214.171.124 20:02, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
What people need is a "pea soup - micro rocket " fog machine and a model rocket. However that would set you back over 400 GBP or USD and do nothing much to humidify the room, being a type of vape machine. I suppose you could take a vape machine and add a fan to mimic a user inhaling, and exhaust into the model for less. Still not humidifying, but the voice off days "still dry in here" RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 20:45, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Whoops! I updated the Feynman story at the same time as somebody else removed it. It's currently back with changes. Maybe I'd better find a better citation to see how accurate it is. It's notable that it was Feynman who found the o-ring issue mentioned in the comic. 126.96.36.199 20:46, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- The Feynman story is from part II of "What do YOU care what other people think?: Further adventures of a curious character". 188.8.131.52 21:24, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- Thanks. I found it on library genesis ( http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=EA0CB0CF9A75A62E9F407CF1EE915F23 ) and my thirdhand telling was indeed rather inaccurate. 184.108.40.206 21:38, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- Removed the story and referenced wikipedia. But Feynman was a badass to stand up to the NASA administration and his silent peers so expressively. 220.127.116.11 20:59, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Anyone else notice someone wrote (after the bit explaining how rockets take off) "This is, of course, preposterous, as rockets are a fake child's fantasy created by Jewish NASA employees"?18.104.22.168 21:25, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
- Trolls, they’re gone now. Netherin5 (talk) 17:44, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
O-Ring seemingly is potentially offensive in another way, too: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=o%20ring Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 06:36, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
- Oh wow. I'd never think of this one. 22.214.171.124 13:22, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
Hmmm, I have always assumed that the water pumped to the base of the launch pad was intended to cool the exhaust so it won't destroy the concrete of the exhaust trench. But it's there to suppress sound? Well, one learns new things all the time... -- 126.96.36.199 09:01, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
- Here's a link! NASA Page188.8.131.52 18:35, 26 February 2019 (UTC)
Doesn't anybody think it looks like the rocket in 2107: Launch Risk? Should this be part of a series with that or what? --
Is the bit about rockets not being real supposed to be some kind of joke? 184.108.40.206 17:32, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
- It’s been removed, and probably not. It’s weird sometimes.Netherin5 (talk) 17:34, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
I recommend removing the BDSM comment, even with the "unlikely" disclaimer, unless Randall has at some time in the past made a similar reference. "O-Ring" and "Ring of O" are just not similar enough, and the *likelier* reference to the Challenger disaster is too strong. Why detract? Or is there an actual Randall-BDSM thing? 220.127.116.11 21:39, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
- I agree, there is no basis in the comic for that interpretation. The O-Ring as part of a real rocket disaster makes sense, the BDSM similar name is strictly accidental. There would have to be something in the comic, or a recurring theme in the comics, or some related current event in the news for it to be worth a mention. -boB (talk) 22:16, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
Would it be worth noting that some rockets use liquid hydrogen as a fuel, producing water as the combustion product. Liquid Hydrogen--the Fuel of Choice for Space Exploration 18.104.22.168 03:31, 22 February 2019 (UTC)
At first I thought that in the third panel Ponytail was of gigantic proportions, rather than the rocket being a miniaturized model. This misconception was clarified by the fourth panel, however... 22.214.171.124 22:26, 27 February 2019 (UTC)
Which kind of rocket?
A small rocket, with two or four boosters (so probably not a Proton) which are tapered at a 45 degree angle (which rules out the Angara series) towards the body, but away from the top (which means it's probably not American) and payload (which rules out the Ariane series), and a demarcated section for the payload faring (which seems to point to the Long March 5). Coupled with the fact that nearly everything is made in China, this makes me think this is a sly "everything is made in China" joke.