A Typing Mistake worth $18.5 million ?

A Typing Mistake worth $18.5 million ?

We are all well known to the seven letter word ‘mistake’. All human beings commit mistakes quite naturally. But what if a single mistake costs 80 million dollars to a country?

History’s most expensive mistake

At Kennedy Space Center in America everyone was in a hurry-scurry because it was a special day. It was 27 August 1962 and NASA’s most ambitious interplanetary spacecraft Mariner-1 was all set for launch. Everything was double checked and at 1721 hours Mariner-1 was launched successfully.

But exactly after 3 minutes and 32 seconds of launch scientists at the space station got some crucial information. After almost 5 minutes Mariner-1 blasts off in air.

There was no issue either with the rocket or with calculations. The fault was a minute mistake in the code.

Whenever a spacecraft is launched into the outer space a code is used to preprogramme it with the path trajectory. Due to any unspecified reason, in the code of Mariner-1, a bar was missed that was needed to be put above R which is the radial velocity. When spacecrafts travel on their trajectory they keep moving and changing their trajectory due to various unavoidable reasons. Thus they are preprogrammed to ignore minute changes until and consider the mean trajectory. As the bar was missed in the code of Mariner-1, as soon as it was launched it started to overcorrect the minute changes in its trajectory which led it to spin randomly. Hence, Mariner-1 was destructed to prevent damage to inhabited areas on Earth.


Thus a single typing mistake was worth almost 18.5 million dollars, the cost of the spacecraft.