In one of my first shifts working at Coles as a teenager, I managed to knock three or four boxes of glass bottles of vinegar out of a roll cage, smashing each and every one of them. At the time, I was deeply embarrassed and straight-up terrified that I was about to be given the sack. It was, of course, a completely trivial in the grand scheme of things; everyone makes mistakes at work and most of the time it’s not a huge deal. That might not well be the case for the bloke who botched a Russian satellite launch last month.
Russia lost contact with the Meteor-M after it was launched last month alongside eighteen other satellites from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome. Coming in at a cheeky 2.6 billion roubles ($58 million AUD), you would probably be pretty pissed.
Specifically, you would be pissed at whichever dude cocked this up. As Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told state media, the entire fiasco was because one programmer plugged the wrong set of coordinates into the satellite: “The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur. They didn’t get the coordinates right.“
Baikonur is a spaceport (how crazy is it that we live in a time where we get to call things ‘spaceports’) that the Russian government leases off Khazakstan for launches – obviously, having been launched from Vostochny, this caused problems.
What happens to you when your tiny mistake ends up causing the loss of a satellite worth more than the GDP of the island nation of Tuvalu? Even if you don’t get fired, I imagine it would be difficult coming into work every day when everyone knows you as the guy that ruined the satellite launch. The work group chat would be unbearable, you’d say anything and they’d be like “Shut up, coordinates boy.” There’s no coming back from that.