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Mars Pathfinder mission operations: faster, better, cheaper on Mars

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1 Author(s)
Cook, R. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA

On July 4, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft landed successfully in Ares Vallis, Mars. The following days and weeks were a whirlwind of scientific and technological achievement, as the lander and rover met and exceeded all of the mission objectives. This accomplishment is clear evidence that the faster, better, cheaper implementation approach can result in highly successful and low cost missions. A number of innovative design, fabrication,and management techniques were used to build and launch the spacecraft within the cost cap. The same faster, better, cheaper spirit was also applied to develop the mission operations system and conduct operations through cruise and surface operations. The highly operable designs of the Flight System and Ground Data System enabled an operations architecture in which most activities were performed by a core group of functional generalists. This group consisted of experienced development and test personnel whose skills were augmented with cross-training and contingency testing. The small size of this team combined with a flat management structure permitted highly streamlined and efficient operational processes. This efficiency was critical during the surface mission when daily updates to the operations plan were performed

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 1998 IEEE  (Volume:5 )

Date of Conference:

21-28 Mar 1998