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Pete Theisinger
Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"Driving to the Review Board, October 2001"

P2K: There's an old cliché... "It's 9 o'clock, do you know where your kids are?" It's December 11, do you know how much your spacecraft weighs?

Pete Theisinger: Oh, yeah, in fact we have what we call "Mass Tribal Councils" every other week, to kind of go through the mass equipment list, and see what's gone up and what's gone down, and it's an extremely detailed list, and we track things at the sub-kilogram level, so... I looked at that data, in fact, 2 days ago, to see where we were, and we're right about at having enough to accommodate what we could expect to be future growth but not a lot more. So we are right on the edge of making... We need to make sure that the things that we build from now on don't grow more than we might expect. We always allow for some growth in the fabrication process but we can't get any major surprises here.

P2K: "Mass Tribal Councils"... Do I catch an allusion to a TV show?

Pete Theisinger: I didn't want to go there... We joke about things like that when we use phrases like that, "Well, I wonder which, what sub-system we're going to get voted off the spacecraft this week," but of course we can't do that because we need all of it. But, I guess that we've done that a few places. Building these things is very much a team effort. And the team is not necessarily the team that's locally in charge of the issues and problems being addressed, but a broad team that has a representative... large amount of stakeholders, large amount of concern about particular areas. And so when you get these groups of people together you tend to call them by "design teams," "Critical Design teams," "Tribal Councils," those kinds of names to just give a flavor of the urgency and the operating mode and what we expect out of the team interaction.

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