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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: There seem to be some surprising things that happened (during the development process), like the solar panel manufacturer goes bankrupt, and you may put a descent imager (the DIMES system) on the spacecraft. Does that affect your job, new things that break into the schedule at the last moment?

Matt Wallace: Everything affects my job, unfortunately. Yeah, that's just one of many perturbations we've had in the schedule. Interestingly, as bad as all that sounds, it's not the worst things that we've had to deal with relative to manipulating schedule and finding workarounds. And yeah, it absolutely affects the program. It affects ATLO significantly. The challenge becomes, then, all right, you're not going to have this solar array in time to do this set of tests, this thermal test or this dynamic vibration test, or this functional test. So what do you do instead? And that's where the creative parts of the team have to be elevated and we have to come together and figure out how we're going to work around the situation.

P2K: If losing the solar panel isn't the worst thing that's happened, what is the worst thing that's happened?

Matt Wallace: There are a couple key pieces of hardware which we're dead in the water without, and one of them is the Rover Electronics Module. It's that big hunk of avionics where we have probably three-quarters of our electronics. It's all, a lot of it's new development electronics, and the delay in getting that box into ATLO is a real issue that we have to work extremely hard. That's one of the toughest.

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