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Richard Cook
Flight Operations Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Who I Am

I am the flight operations manager for Mars Pathfinder. This means that I am responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the spacecraft after launch. My background is in aerospace engineering, specifically the design, development and operation of space missions. I started on Mars Pathfinder five years ago, and my first job was to identify the interplanetary trajectory we will use to get to Mars.

My Career Journey

I have always been interested in math, science and space exploration, but I really didn't decide to be an aerospace engineer until I got to college. I got a BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. CU has a good aerospace engineering department, so I ended up taking some classes in orbital mechanics and space mission design. It was so interesting that I decided to get my MS in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. After graduating from UT in 1989, I came to JPL and have been here ever since.


My parents had the greatest effect on steering me toward math and science. My dad was a geophysicist for a large oil company, so I got interested in science early. I also had a couple of professors in college who got me specifically interested in aerospace engineering and orbital mechanics.

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