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Movies, Mars Missions and Why Murphy Was An Optimist

9 Oct 2015, 15:40 UTC
Movies, Mars Missions and Why Murphy Was An Optimist
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If Murphy’s Law were actually true, things would arguably be much easier.
The old adage that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” has a reputation of being the apogee of pessimism, but think about how much simpler it would make things if it were true. Spaceflight is full of unknown possibilities, and if Murphy’s Law were really true, you’d only have to prepare for the worst of them.
It’s true for a college exam and it’s true in life or in engineering – it’s not the hard questions that will get you, it’s the ones you never imagined you’d be asked.
There’s a movie out now that captures the spirit of that. “The Martian” tells the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut on Mars who, to put it lightly, gets the opportunity to learn about what can go wrong in space exploration, and his survival depends on working with the NASA team back on Earth to answer questions none of them had ever imagined.
In many ways, “The Martian” is a spiritual successor to “Apollo 13,” both the 1995 movie and the 1970 NASA mission on which it was based. On that mission, a failure in an Apollo ...

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