Written by: Mansoor Jamali

Mansoor Mustafa Jamali of Orange County has been a Trajectory Analysis Engineer at SpaceX for a little over two years now. His job involves analysing trajectory profiles designed by SpaceX’s Guidance, Navigation and Control teams for risk. In this piece he writes about how sacrifice, hard work and passionate endeavour combined to enable him to shoot for the stars.

Passion and dedication. Two ingredients that are essential in any concoction of success, two layers that act hand in hand but are just as crucial alone.

On the outside is passion. You wear it like a sleeve on your arm. People speak to you and they know what you stand for, they know what drives you and motivates you everyday. It’s how you present yourself and your greatest aspirations to the world. It’s the fire that fuels your narrative.

On the inside is dedication. It’s the endless pursuit of your passion, the constant desire to master your craft and refusing to stop until you’ve reached the top. No one sees the long hours you put in, the obstacles you overcame, the sacrifices you made to get there. But you’ll always know and it’ll feed that passion even more.

I was five years old when I first heard the words ‘aeronautical engineer.’ It was a dream of my father’s to pursue that field but opportunities were scarce for him in Karachi. But something about the way he spoke of it rubbed off on me. I was captivated. Whether it was planes or spaceships or fantasising about exploring our galaxy, there was a sense of excitement inside me that cultivated that interest and only made it grow stronger with time. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else in the future.

I was fortunate enough to immigrate to the United States when I was in elementary school. My parents uprooted their entire lives to give me and my brother the opportunities they never had. Their dedication to my future instilled a spirit of dedication within me that shaped my outlook on life and everything I stood for. My achievements were just as much theirs, so I knew no matter what I did, it had to be done to the highest level because nothing short would suffice.

Despite growing up with that determined attitude, SpaceX was always a pipe dream. It was the company my college classmates and I admired the most because they were visionaries sculpting the future of the industry. They had lofty goals and were willing to push the limits to achieve them. It was a melting pot for dreamers who carried the passion and dedication to turn visions into reality while embracing the challenge. It was my calling.

I wish I could say I applied for a SpaceX position, nailed the interview and got the job. But that wasn’t my story and I’m thankful it wasn’t. Every failed attempt only made me hungrier and gave me more motivation to improve myself and my skills. It made the experience of landing an offer on the umpteenth attempt even sweeter and made me appreciate the journey I took to get there. I was given an opportunity to work alongside some of the best and brightest people in the world doing things I dreamed about as a child, a privilege I will forever treasure. The work is meticulous; everything needs to be measured and done to perfection as any errors could prove detrimental to safety. But if executed by a team of like-minded individuals utterly devoted to their craft and their calling, the results are unwavering as you pass one milestone after another.

Society loves to tell us what a normal path through life should be and what’s worth pursuing. It’s easy to get lost in those expectations and succumb to the pressures around us. In those moments, you need to find your inner voice telling you your true purpose and dedicate your life trying to pursue it. Shoot for the stars because you just might make it, but if you fall short, maybe you’ll land on Mars!