For many the start of 2021 lacked the hope and optimism that normally transpires when embarking on a new year. With most of the world still under the grip of Covid restrictions, it's easy to overlook the marvels that still occur; from the birth of new life to medical breakthroughs and technological advances - everyday, we are still progressing and achieving.
However, this February, amid the pandemic, something momentous did happen. Something so huge it was impossible to overlook.
And here at SE-Training we felt it only right to acknowledge this feat of engineering, or more specifically, the engineers behind this impressive achievement, and consider what drove them to complete this extraordinary project.
From the first attempts to land on Mars up to the landing of Perseverance we can observe a mix of successes and failures spanning through the decades. And when we consider how each rover was built with its own unique features, how every mission had individual specifications and how they were constructed by different teams of people, we can appreciate the scope for failure. And let's face it, building a rover is not simple; it's a complex blend of design, decisions and development, interwoven with requirements and risks and testing and assessing...it’s a lengthy, costly, and intricate process.
Yet Perseverance triumphed against all these varying elements, emerging as a spectacle of space engineering; not only landing successfully on Mars, but also on a quest to cache rock and soil samples for future exploration! So, other than obvious technological and scientific expertise, how has this been achieved? Well, as NASA aptly named its current rover, through the very act of ‘perseverance’, which is defined as:
‘Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.’
- (The Oxford English Dictionary)
The engineers had belief, determination and persistence in their project, demonstrating a solid commitment and shared vision, all of which ultimately propelled them to successful completion. Their journey would have been chequered with highs and lows; filled with setbacks, disappointments, nail-biting moments and back to the drawing-board moments. They would have made mistakes and felt defeated. Yet, they learned from these challenges and would also have experienced moments of great joy - suddenly seeing their ideas come to fruition or having those unbeatable light-bolt moments, where innovative sparks suddenly lit up their thinking to make ways for alternative designs and solutions.
So, to the engineers who believed and who persevered. We admire you. Perhaps we will all see ‘perseverance’ as more than simply trying hard at something….it will mean landing on Mars. And as we move into the future, discovering more, testing more and developing more; systems will become more intricate than its predecessor with capabilities even vaster than the last. Our accomplishments will snowball. So, who really knows what you or I can achieve when we persevere? Perhaps, one day a jet plane on Saturn?