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A Little Happier: Yes, I Made a Dumb Mistake–But People Have Made Dumber Mistakes.


If you’re like me, sometimes you just feel terrible, because you made a silly, obvious mistake. Yes, it could happen to anyone, yes, nobody’s perfect, but still, I often find it hard to let something like that go.

I happened to be slightly obsessing about a dumb mistake I’d made with my calendar when I came upon a reference to a mistake that NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) made – and it made me feel much better about my mistake. Perhaps it will also allow you to feel better about a mistake you’ve made.

In 1999, NASA lost its unmanned $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter, which was sent into space to study the weather on Mars.

Why? Because spacecraft engineers forgot to convert from feet to meters when exchanging vital data before the launch. The team that designed and built the spacecraft used inches, feet, and pounds, and the navigation team used the metric system.

This resulted in a simple math error that caused the craft to burn up in Mars’s atmosphere.

You know, mistakes happen. Even rocket scientists can make a simple math error. Nobody’s perfect.

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