Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

RELEASE: 99-147


A. Thomas Young has been named by NASA Administrator Daniel
S. Goldin to chair the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team
which will review the agency’s approach to robotic exploration of
Mars in the wake of the recent loss of the Mars Polar Lander

Young retired as executive vice president of Lockheed Martin
Corp. in 1995. During his career, Young has managed numerous
complex, technically challenging programs, including serving as
mission director of the 1976 NASA Viking landings on Mars. Young
was director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
MD, from 1980 to 1982, and then joined Martin Marietta Corp. in
1982 as vice president of aerospace research and engineering. He
was named president and chief operating officer of Martin Marietta
in 1990.

The team will evaluate several recent successful and
unsuccessful NASA missions to deep space, including Mars
Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar
Lander, Deep Space 1 and Deep Space 2. It will analyze the
budgets, content, schedule, management structure and scientific
organization of these missions. It will then assess how these
roles and responsibilities are related to mission safety,
reliability and success.

The assessment team will also review proposed revisions to
NASA’s existing Mars exploration program architecture as options
are developed by a group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
in Pasadena, CA.

The team will report their findings to the NASA administrator
by mid-March 2000. Other members of the board will be established

“I have asked Tom Young as the leader of this team to dig as
deep as he can, ask as many questions as possible, and to operate
in a completely independent environment,” Goldin said. “He will
have access to every document, every employee, and every NASA
resource. We will be open and non-defensive. We will listen and

“We have had a string of successes, but we’ve also had a few
failures and we must learn from both. This independent review team
will provide us with some fundamental guidance about how to
continue our bold program for exploring the solar system, and how
to make it even better.”

The investigation into the likely cause of the apparent
failure of the Mars Polar Lander mission will be conducted by an
internal peer review at JPL and submitted to the Mars assessment
team for their review.

Mars Polar Lander and Mars Climate Orbiter are part of a
series of missions in a long-term program of Mars exploration
managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Office of
Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL’s industrial partner is
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO. JPL is a division of
the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.


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