Above image credits: goodnightoppymovie.com (left), Anglo American (right)

Did you catch First Mode’s Chris Voorhees (CEO) and Pete Illsley (Director of Mechanical Engineering) in Good Night Oppy? The film follows NASA’s Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover, affectionately dubbed “Oppy,” and charts the remarkable true story of a rover that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years. It’s well worth a watch.

First Mode is excited to start 2023 focused on helping heavy industry transition to a diesel-free future. But we remain insistently proud of our team’s roots in space exploration. 

We’re often asked how these two areas of expertise are connected, and why award-winning NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers would want to shift their focus to the challenge of our time here on Earth, climate change.

Spacecraft systems are naturally resource constrained. There is never enough power, and the environment is harsh. Success within these parameters requires some pretty serious technical skills and a technology-agnostic approach to find the right solution for a given problem.

In the case of mine site haulage systems, there is never enough power, the environment is harsh, and safety is paramount. The tools and techniques used to design spacecraft systems are directly portable to designing, building, and operating these clean energy systems — like the proof-of-concept hydrogen fuel cell and battery powerplant that earlier this year replaced a diesel engine in an Anglo American ultra-class haul truck.

If you haven’t seen Good Night Oppy yet, it’s on Amazon Prime and we recommend it. And follow along for more First Mode breakthroughs in 2023!