John R. Casani, retired former chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., was awarded an honorary doctorate today in astronautical engineering from the University of Rome La Sapienza for his work on NASA's historic Voyager, Galileo and Cassini space missions.
Casani, who retired from JPL in 1999, spent the bulk of his 43-year career in project management and system engineering on historic missions of space exploration. He served as project manager for the Voyager mission to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He also held project positions in JPL's early Explorer, Pioneer, Ranger and Mariner space missions.
He has received a variety of NASA's highest awards over the last 35 years, including the Distinguished Service Medal for the Galileo mission, and the Medal for Outstanding Leadership for the Mariner 10 and Voyager projects. Casani was also a recipient of NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal.
In 1988, he was elected as a member to the International Astronautics Academy and in 1989 to the National Academy of Engineering.
Casani has received a Space Systems Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; the von Karman lectureship in astronautics; the National Space Club's Astronaut's Engineer Award; and the 1965 Young Man of the Year Award from the Pasadena Junior Chamber of Commerce.
In 1955, he earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1992, the university awarded him an honorary doctor of science.
Today, Casani sits on many JPL review and advisory boards. This past January, he headed JPL's Mars Polar Lander failure investigation board.
Born in Philadelphia, Casani now lives in Pasadena with his wife. He has four sons.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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