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

"ATLO Day 1, March 1 2001"

P2K: How different is this the Mars Exploration Rovers mission from Pathfinder in feel, personality, how much fun it is to work on?

Matt Wallace: I think, you know, interestingly enough, when you go back and you remember this stage of Pathfinder, people were saying all the same things that they are saying on this mission, which is, you know, "Oh, it's so aggressive, it's so difficult, we're working so hard, so long, this is no fun." But in reality people are having a lot of fun, I think, in reality they're going to look back on it the same way we look back on Pathfinder now and say I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

But there are certainly some differences. There's a much, much bigger team this time around and that's, in my position now, at least, is a management challenge, trying to keep everybody going in the same direction, making sure I'm keeping the right people informed about what's happening down here at ATLO. That's part of the challenge.

Other differences: it's more aggressive schedule-wise. From an ATLO perspective we have on the order of three to four less months than we did on Pathfinder to actually get the vehicle ready for launch, and that may not sound like a lot, but it's a lot when we have two vehicles and a very complex mission, which, almost any Mars lander is a fairly complex mission. So I would say those are, from my perspective, from where I'm sitting, those are the two big differences: the coordination of the large team and the fact that the assembly and test schedule is that much more aggressive.

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