August 14, 2012

Mars, Curiosity and Asteroids…

So, first of all, before I take this opportunity to introduce you to a few superstar members of our Planetary Engineering Team who helped design and build Curiosity – the team that is now focused on getting us (and you) to the Asteroids – please check out one of my favorite videos about “Mindset”… it’s only 2 minutes and 15 seconds long, but worth every microsecond and a good context for the rest of this post.  It’s called: “The Future Is Ours”…

The Future is Ours from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.


And now meet the amazing team behind Planetary Resources…


Chris Voorhees – VP of Spacecraft DevelopmentChris Voorhees, VP of Spacecraft Development

Mr. Voorhees most recently served as lead mechanical engineer for rover development and spacecraft system integration on Curiosity.  He’s been designing and building spacecraft for the last fifteen years. His hardware has been sent to Mars 7 times: on Mars 96, Deep Space 2, the Mars Exploration Rovers and now Curiosity.


Peter Illsley, Principal Mechanical / Thermal EngineerPeter Illsey Prinicpal Mechanical and Thermal Engineer

Peter Illsley was Curiosity’s Lead Rover Structures Engineer as well as the Rover Vehicle Lead Integration Engineer.  Along with Chris Voorhees, and Chris Lewicki, Peter was also a critical member of the teams that designed, assembled, tested, and launched the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit & Opportunity).


Hannah Goldberg, Senior Systems EngineerHannah Goldberg, Senior Systems Engineer

When Hannah Goldberg was at JPL, she was an avionics and systems engineer. She performed Curiosity’s spacecraft sensor hardware calibration and test, with significant time spent in field testing of landing sensors on platforms such as helicopters and an F/A-18.


Sean Haggart, Senior Mechanical EngineerSean Haggart Senior Mechanical Engineer

Sean Haggart designed and delivered the wheels and other drive and steer hardware for Curiosity.  He also led assembly and test efforts for the rover’s gear motors, and was a rover mechanical integration engineer during Assembly, Test and Launch Operations for Curiosity.


Spencer Anunsen, Staff Mechanical EngineerSpencer Anunsen, Staff Mechanical Engineer

Spencer designed mechanical parts for Curiosity and performed major assembly and testing on the vehicle’s mobility system and hazard avoidance camera covers, including work in JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility, Environmental Test Lab and Mars Yard.


I couldn’t be more proud of the technical team that Chris Lewicki (our President, Chief Engineer and Chief Asteroid Miner) has assembled… and these are just a small subset of the incredible engineering talent we’ve assembled so far (we are rapidly hiring).

When I was at JPL, what struck me were the odds facing Curiosity for landing safely.  Historically, only 33% of Mars lander missions have succeeded.  It was no wonder that when JPL’s director, Charles Elachi, came over to address the group I was with he said, “We’re very nervous…”.  After all, this was one of the most complex mechanical systems ever launched off the Earth.  As Elachi finished his remarks he quoted President Teddy Roosevelt, whose words I quickly wrote down…. “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure.”

THIS is the mindset that makes humanity great.  The willingness to dare mighty things.  The ability to take on big risks, to dare to drive breakthroughs, and the willingness to fail.

At Planetary the spirit of taking risk, daring to be great is alive and well.  We are going to the Asteroids.  Thank you for your support!

In the comments below, I’d love if you’d share your thoughts on Curiosity and what landing on Mars means to you.

Also, please help share this growing community with your friends.  Please share this blog with others.

Thank you.  I’m very proud of all that we are doing!