The history of Mars exploration provides strong evidence of human stubbornness. It was a case of "if at first you don't succeed, try -- and fail -- repeatedly."
The former Soviet Union was the original pioneer in exploring the Red Planet.
A broadcast clip from History.com catches the flavor of the late-1950s and early '60s space race with the launch of Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957: "The first artificial Earth satellite in the world has now been created. This first satellite was today successfully launched in the USSR."
Three years later, with Mars ambitions, the Soviet Union sent up two probes. The craft, launched in October 1960, weren't named at the time of launch. Perhaps the Soviets knew they shouldn't get too attached? Neither spacecraft managed to reach Earth orbit.
But the Soviet Union had a can-do spirit when it came to space. In 1962, it tried again ... and failed again.
The goal of that attempt -- Sputnik 22, launched Oct. 24, 1962 -- was a Mars fly-by to send back pictures of the planet. The spacecraft managed to make Earth orbit but failed to get past that point by the time the final rocket stage exploded. Alas, this happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Debris from the exploded spacecraft was initially identified by an early warning system in Alaska as nuclear warheads. Fortunately for us all, the mistake was cleared up.