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Rob Manning
Entry, Descent and Landing Operations Manager
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Then Mars Pathfinder came along. For the past three-and-a-half years (from 1994-1996), I have been chief engineer of the Mars Pathfinder flight system. The flight system that I am technically responsible for is everything about Mars Pathfinder that "flies" except for the Sojourner rover and the other science instruments like the camera. As chief engineer, I am responsible for the design, development and test of all aspects of the spacecraft. As an additional duty, I am also lead system engineer for the entry, descent and landing phase of the mission.

As chief engineer, you might think that I need to understand everything about Pathfinder. When I was offered this job nearly four years ago, I naively thought that I could! It took me about three months to realize that it is impossible for any one person to know all there is to know about complex spacecraft. I like to joke that I know virtually nothing about practically everything! The best any chief engineer can do is help be the "glue" that binds the overall engineering development process together. It takes many good people working as a team to achieve what we have (so far). I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work closely with a talented team of engineers and scientists from nearly all of the engineering professions spread all over the country.

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