NASA’s Mercury program
(Photo courtesy of University of Oregon.)

A goal of NASA’s Mercury program was to determine the effects of space travel on the human body. And Gordon Cooper was among the last of Mercury’s human-sized guinea pigs. Gordon’s only responsibility on his flight was to sit tight and experience the marvels of space, thanks to Mercury’s automatic controls and preset flight path. The Mercury was designed to take off, reach space, and land without pilot intervention. Unfortunately, in mid-flight, the Mercury capsule’s electrical systems failed. Every instrument on the spacecraft went dead: no readings, no guidance, and no lights but those reflected from the earth’s surface. Worse yet, the radio connection between Mercury and NASA was nothing but static. With John Glenn, Cooper calculated a reentry path for their capsule. He drew marks on the window to plot their trajectory against the stars, and breached the hull to activate the fuel valves—by hand. And on their brutal reentry, Cooper timed and manually activated both parachutes and the landing pad. He did all this as the capsule filled with poisonous carbon monoxide. A single error would have cost both men their lives. But they landed, and lived, because they were able to think quick and move even quicker.

What’s the Deal With All This History?

You’re probably wondering why I’m giving you a history lesson you didn’t ask for. For the answer, I’ll go back a few months to an intense discussion on our team’s Slack channel: who’s the “baddest,” most extreme person that has ever lived? In the middle of a heated argument over Evel Knievel and Chuck Norris, someone said, “Gordon Cooper.” We’d been playing with the notion of bringing a little bit of color to the OutSystems community with an icon to represent what OutSystems developers are capable of and stand for. This wasn’t an easy task; we didn’t want to have the next Wenlock and Mandeville on our hands. Because of that Slack exchange, we came to an important realization. There actually are similarities between OutSystems developers and Gordon Cooper. Okay, so landing a tin can barreling through a cosmic void at 17,000 miles an hour with absolutely no assistance could be seen as more challenging than building an application. But like our Mercury astronaut, OutSystems developers need to work in an atmosphere where everything is faster. When they start an OutSystems project, the mode is immediately “fast forward.” In more concrete terms, developers who use OutSystems will complete up to four complex projects a year. Traditional coders are lucky to get one done in a year. So, it’s not apples to apples exactly, but like astronauts, developers who use OutSystems are agile, able to think super fast and move even quicker. After that realization, something magic happened. Someone just started drawing an astronaut on a nearby whiteboard and said, in a very Morgan Freeman kind of way, “Guys, this will be the future of delivery. Forget drones.” So, thanks to the amazing Gordon Cooper and our Morgan Freeman wannabe, we had our idea.

Where Space Meets Backtrace

One week later, our designer’s table was literally full of astronaut sketches. It was as if they’d been spread there just for dramatic effect, but he assured us it helped the creativity flow. Such a messy table obviously started getting people’s attention—even our CEO, who focused on the space suit’s seals and hinges!

Mascot timeline

We’re proud to say we got a few minutes of his time and he gave us a few strikes on the sketches. It went from “what is this mess” to “now, that’s cool”.

The Big Reveal

Our brand new mascot, an astronaut, exemplifies what we love most about the OutSystems developer community. Like astronauts, OutSystems developers are intelligent, resourceful, high-performing, and audacious. We believe that our community is empowered by our technology to make bigger claims, aim for higher goals, and move at speeds that many developers never reach.

 

As you can see, our mascot is friendly, and above all else: cool, confident, and a little bit quirky. Our designers also gave our mascot a wide range of expressions to help deliver a relatable symbol to the community.

Mascot emotions

What’s in a Name?

So, we love our mascot, but we also want you, the OutSystems developer, to love it. And to bring you and the rest of the community in on the love, we’re asking for your help. We want you to give this space traveler a name. So, starting today, you can submit a name! We’re giving away prizes for the best submissions. Six winners will be chosen: community’s choice, MVP’s choice, most creative, most unique, employee choice, and the final selection! If you want to learn more about the mascot and the naming contest, check out the mascot’s brand new landing page. Good luck. Or in the words of Gordon Cooper, “go a little bit higher and a little bit faster.”