In his book, “Pastoral Grit: the Strength to Stand and Stay,” Pastor Craig Larson describes the incredible Pioneer 10 Satellite. In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to experts at NASA, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere.
Scientists regarded this as a bold plan because at that time, no Earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars. They feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target.
However, Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of our solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn and sent back incredible data.
At some two billion miles per hour, it hurtled past Uranus, then at Neptune at nearly three billion mph, and Pluto at almost four billion mph. By 1997, 25 years after it had been launched by NASA, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles away from the sun.
Despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. What is maybe even more incredible, these signals emanated from an 8-watt transmitter which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light.
Many at NASA had come to call Pioneer 10 “The Little Satellite that Could.” Engineers had designed this satellite with a useful life of just three years, but it had kept going and going. Pioneer 10 had accomplished more than anyone ever thought possible.
We as people can draw away lessons of perseverance as we look at the incredible plight of this little satellite. I see these same two characteristics in the lives of so many Marines and Sailors every day.
They persevere through intense training, field operations, difficult work-ups and long deployments. I also see these characteristics in their family members and loved ones. They persevere through the same difficult periods and continue to keep the home and families going strong.
In the Scriptures, we find these encouraging words, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1) God’s word encourages us to “run with perseverance” the race before us – no matter how tough the circumstances may be and how small we may think our talents and abilities are. We are encouraged to persevere, never give in and to be faithful to the very end.
No matter how great the challenge or difficulty that we may face today or in the future, I hope that we can learn a lesson about endurance and perseverance from the “Little Satellite that Could.”
I am thankful for Marines, Sailors and their families who endure and persevere every day for God, Country, and Corps. Blessings to all in service.