Chapter 8

Setting Up an Effective Planning and Control Cycle

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR NASA

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When President Barack Obama, calling from aboard Air Force One, congratulated the Curiosity team on their successful Mars rover landing, he reached a jubilant Peter Theisinger, project manager for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. And rightly so. Success did not come easy, nor by luck. It was the result of a carefully planned and executed, billion-dollar eight-year program that culminated in the successful landing at Gale Crater on August 5, 2012, after seven months of space flight. Yet, this is only the beginning of Curiosity's Martian mission.

One of the most ambitious space programs to date, the Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. During the next 23 months Curiosity will act as a mobile science laboratory on Mars to investigate whether life could exist on the Red Planet and even help scientists and engineers plan for future human missions to Mars. Although Curiosity will not be the first rover ever sent to Mars, it will certainly be the most advanced. Eight years in the making, the rover carries the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever used on Mars' surface, a payload more than 10 times as massive as those of earlier Mars rovers. Curiosity is equipped with 17 cameras, a handful of instruments, and an innovative landing system. Two of the mast-mounted ...

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