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Matt Wallace
Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) Manager
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California

My name is Matt Wallace and I'm the "ATLO" manager, and "ATLO" is Assembly, Test, and Launch operations." "ATLO" is where it all comes together-all the subsystems deliver their hardware into ATLO so we can integrate it, and test it, and get it ready to ship down to the Cape and get it launched. So it's a pretty big deal. We can't really do a mission without ATLO. The ATLO team eventually stacks the spacecraft onto the launch vehicle, onto the rocket, and they help prepare the rocket for launch once it's out on the pad. And after you light the wick there, and the rocket's gone from the pad, we officially transition from the ATLO period to the operations period and we hand off into mission operations.

My Career Journey
I grew up in New Jersey and Washington, DC. In high school, I got good pretty good grades in math and I enjoyed solving puzzles and problems. That made me think I might like being an engineer. But I didn't start out as a spacecraft engineer; I actually began in the Navy. I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, in 1984, and became an officer in the Submarine Force. I spent about five years driving a Los Angeles Class "fast attack" sub around various oceans.

After awhile, though, I decided to go back to graduate school to do more technical engineering. NASA's space program had always interested me. To me, NASA lets you take a big poke at the unknown, and if you can help solve just a little bit of it, then you played at least a bit part in everything that happens in the future. So after getting a master's degree in electrical engineering at Caltech in 1991, I applied for and was lucky to get a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL.

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