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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"

The other, I'd say equally as tough, is the threat to the lander structure. You mentioned composites. Lander structure is a composite structure. It's a very difficult bit of manufacturing and testing to get that thing, and design work, to get it complete and into ATLO, and the project bit off a big challenge when they decided they had to do it for mass reasons. And it's driving, that schedule is right now, I believe, driving the ATLO schedule. It's the biggest threat, from a schedule perspective, to the launch. So the delays in that program are probably one of the hardest to accommodate.

P2K: Why are you back here in the business of launching an even more complex rover to Mars, when you could be golfing as a result of being a part of the aerospace industry on the East Coast? Why did you come back to do this kind of incredibly challenging stuff?

Matt Wallace: I think everybody is challenged by different things. Everybody enjoys different things in their jobs. I love having somebody telling me, "you can't do it, it can't be done, that's almost impossible, nobody's ever tried that before," which is kind of the situation we were in with this particular I mean, a lot of folks will tell you that trying to build two landers which are on the high end of the complexity scale when it comes to interplanetary missions in the timeframe that we have, y'know, is crazy. And I think that's probably why I'm here. I'm a glutton for punishment. I love being challenged like that, and that's to a large degree why I'm here. And part of it is just knowing that there's going to be something up there on Mars that has your name and your imprint on it. It's somehow a kind of tie into the future, I guess.

That's the kind of stuff I enjoy doing and you can't work with a better group of people than the folks right here at JPL. The pros far outweigh the cons and that's why I'm here.

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