MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Jane Platt/Mary Beth Murrill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJune 4, 1998
NEW MANAGERS APPOINTED FOR CASSINI AND GALILEO MISSIONS
Robert T. Mitchell of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, CA, has been named program manager of the international
Cassini spacecraft mission now en route to Saturn and its moon,
Titan. Mitchell assumes the post being left vacant by Richard J.
Spehalski, who retires on June 5.
Bob Mitchell had served as project manager for NASA's
Galileo Europa Mission since December 1997. James K. Erickson,
who was deputy project manager for the Galileo Europa Mission under
Mitchell, has been promoted to project manager. The Galileo
spacecraft, launched in 1989, has spent the past 2-1/2 years
studying Jupiter, its magnetosphere, and its moons. The
spacecraft is currently in an extended mission focusing on
Jupiter's moon, Europa, which may have liquid oceans beneath its
Since joining JPL in 1965, Mitchell has worked on spacecraft
trajectory design, mission design, and navigation for such
planetary exploration projects as Mariner '67, Mariner '69,
Mariner '71, the Viking Mission to Mars, and Galileo.
Before becoming Galileo project manager, Mitchell was
Galileo mission director, and prior to that, Galileo mission
design manager from 1979 to 1988. From 1988 to 1993, Mitchell
managed JPL's overall Mission Design Section, and from 1993
through 1996, he managed the Galileo Science and Sequence Office.
When the Galileo launch was delayed from January 1982 to
October 1989, he led the development of numerous redesigns of the
mission, and headed the NASA-honored team that developed the
innovative Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist (VEEGA) trajectory
that gave the spacecraft the velocity boost it needed to reach
Jupiter. Mitchell also received NASA Exceptional Achievement
Awards for his work on navigation for the Viking Mission to Mars
and the mission design of the Galileo Project.
Mitchell was born in Springville, PA, graduated from the
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AK, and holds masters'
degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. He lives with
his wife in Northridge, CA
Jim Erickson has been deputy project manager of the Galileo
mission since January 1998. Prior to that, he managed the
Galileo Science and Sequence Office, and also served as deputy
manager of the Galileo Engineering Office, and was the Galileo
sequence team chief. Since joining JPL in 1974, Erickson's
assignments have included development and operations of ground
systems for the Viking and Voyager projects, flight and ground
telemetry system design for the Galileo Project, and project
ground data system engineer on the Mars Observer mission.
Erickson was awarded both the NASA Exceptional Service Award
and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Award for his work on the
Galileo Project. He received his bachelor of science degree in
applied physics from Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, and a
master's degree in business administration in project management
from West Coast University in Los Angeles He grew up in
Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, and lives there now with his
wife and daughter.
Additional information on the Cassini and Galileo missions
is available on the Internet at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini
The Cassini and Galileo missions are managed by JPL for
NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is managed
for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.