NASA Turns Latest Failure into Success

03 July, 2014

Failure is our best teacher.

But don't take my word for it.

How about Thomas Edison?

NASA Turns Latest Failure into Success
Inventors Thomas Edison, left, and Charles Steinmetz in a laboratory

When the famous inventor talked about his failures, he supposedly said, "I have not failed. I have simply found 10,000 ways that won't work."


Well, NASA scientists seem to be of the same mind -- not surprisingly. U.S. space officials at NASA are declaring the test flight of a new Mars landing craft a success even though a parachute failed to open fully.

High-altitude balloon carrying saucer-shaped vehicle for NASA is launched to test technology that could be used to land on Mars. (Hawaii, June 2014)

A helium balloon and motor carried the huge saucer-shaped craft from the launch pad in Hawaii to more than 36,000 meters over the Pacific. At that height the atmosphere is as thin as that over Mars.

This craft was equipped with a 34-meter-wide parachute. The parachute was supposed to guide the craft to an ocean splashdown. But it failed to open completely.

NASA says, however, it is pleased with the results. The agency says this was a more valuable experience than if everything had gone perfectly.

So, in that case we should say, "U.S. space officials are declaring the test flight of a new Mars landing craft a success BECAUSE a parachute failed to open fully."

NASA hopes to use the new vehicle in future human travel to the red planet. We will keep you posted when we get more news on that. In the meantime, we can all learn a lesson from NASA's great attitude. When a failure knocks you down, you just get up again.

Ralph Waldo Emerson had this thought too.

The writer and leader of the U.S. Transcendental literature movement of the mid-nineteenth century is reported to have said that "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

And just so you won't forget, we leave you with the 1990s band Chumbawumba and their song "Tubthumping," better known as "I Get Knocked Down."

I'm Anna Matteo

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down