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5 things I learned about failure from a mission to Mars

I’m always fascinated when humans do great things. One of the most impressive human achievements in my mind is how NASA and other space organizations are exploring the universe, millions of miles away from home.

<Picture of Mars>

This is a picture of Mars, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) launched by NASA in 2005.

Originally it was planned to circle around Mars for about two years and take high quality pictures of Mars surface. Today, about 9 years later it is still flying its circles around the red planet and has been sending more data back to Earth than all other missions combined!

Since 1960 there have been 43 missions to Mars. Only 16 were successful, most of them in the past 10 years.

During the first ten attempts there was only one mission that can be called a success. The Mariner 4 was launched by NASA to fly close to Mars in 1964 and was able to send 21 poor quality pictures back to earth.

1) Learn from your mistakes. Take a step back and try to switch off your emotions of regret and pain. Why did this failure occur? What could have prevented it from happening? Is there anything you can do next time that would increase your chance of success? By learning from the experience of each attempt all future missions had a higher likelihood to succeed.

2) Don’t take failure personal. Just because you haven’t yet found the successful way doesn’t mean that YOU are a failure. Giving up is the only way to permanently fail. If NASA had given up after the first couple of failed missions it would have never achieved the big success of the most recent missions.

3) Don’t well on failure. It’s OK to be sad for a day or two after something has gone terribly wrong. After that you need to pick yourself up and stop wasting energy on it. You cannot change the past, only the future.

4) Ignore what other’s say. If NASA and other organizations had listened to the media after yet another failed mission and had cancelled future missions to Mars we would have never know about space what we know today.

5) Change your perspective.

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