- Press Release
- Oct 5, 2022
James Erickson Takes NASA Mars Rover Reins As Richard Cook Joins 2009 Mission
At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., James K.
Erickson becomes project manager for the Mars Exploration Rover
Project today as his predecessor, Richard A. Cook, switches to the
development of an even more capable Mars rover for launch in 2009.
Cook becomes deputy project manager for NASA’s Mars Science
Laboratory, the future rover mission whose project manager, Peter C.
Theisinger, managed the Mars Exploration Rover Project from its
inception in mid-2000 until February 2004, when Cook succeeded him.
The rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January and
successfully completed all of the predetermined criteria for mission
success in the following three months. NASA approved an extended
mission for getting bonus work out of the robotic geologists through
September. Both rovers remain healthy, though the harsh martian
environment could end their operations at any point. “We are adapting
to a pace of sustained exploration of the two landing sites,” Erickson
said. “The fun part of the job is working with the highest caliber
engineers and scientists. The challenge is to lead without getting in
Erickson was project manager for NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter for
three years prior to joining the rover project as mission manager in
2001. During 30 years at JPL, he has also worked on the Viking
missions to Mars, the Voyager missions to outer planets and the Mars
Observer mission. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied physics
from Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif., and a master’s in
business administration and project management from West Coast
University, Los Angeles. He lives in Glendale, Calif.
Cook was flight operations manager for the Mars Pathfinder project,
which put a lander and small rover on Mars in 1997. He joined JPL in
1989 and worked on the Magellan mission to Venus prior to Pathfinder.
He earned a bachelor’s in engineering physics from the University of
Colorado, Boulder, and a master’s in aerospace engineering from the
University of Texas, Austin. He lives in Santa Clarita, Calif.