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Art Thompson
ATLO Systems Lead
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(ATLO: Assembly, Test and Launch Operations.)

And if you've never experienced the "thrill" and the "terror" of being in ATLO, it's a real eye-opening experience.

The thrill is to actually see a spacecraft come together, and to know that you're part of something that's unique in history. The terror is when you turn it on and it doesn't work, and you realize that you can't slip the launch. The launch is going to happen. You're either going to make the launch or you're not, and if you don't make the launch it's over; it's all for naught. It's not like you can launch it late. So there's a lot of terror, there's a lot of concern that you do it right the first time, because with flight hardware you oftentimes don't get a second chance.

P2K: Art had been speaking about the spacecraft in very personal terms, so we asked "Is it in the womb yet or is it out? Does it have a personality as far as you're concerned?"

Art Thompson (March 1, 2002): "It's not quite out of the womb. 'Out of the womb' is when it shows up behind these walls here in the High Bay. It's still being developed, but yes, the spacecraft, every spacecraft has a personality. I guess it goes back to when I was working on Mars Pathfinder, on the Sojourner rover. She was named after a female, and we tend to think of our spacecraft as having personalities and being a woman."

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