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> is a factor of the small number of manned launches per year

That's true, but the person you're replying to spent most of their comment directly addressing that fact.

What am I missing that addresses the math?

That you will always have at least single digit failures. Sometimes things have to go wrong before we can correct them. We got where we are today with airplanes not because the first million flights didn't have a single accident, but because we paid careful attention to every failure and did our best to keep it from ever happening again.

Take a look at this report on Boeing crash history: http://www.boeing.com/resources/boeingdotcom/company/about_b... In particular, take a look at page 17 (slide 16) which shows the crash rate over time. We have gone from about 40 hull losses per million departures in the 50's to about 0.6 to 1 (depending on how you count) per million departures today.

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