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Donald Savage

Headquarters, Washington, DC April 19, 2001


(Phone: 202/358-1547)

RELEASE: 01-75

NEW ACTING DIRECTOR APPOINTED FOR NASA'S MARS EXPLORATION


PROGRAM

NASA announced today that Mars Program Director, G. Scott


Hubbard, has decided to leave that position following a
successful year leading the agency's robotic exploration
program. Orlando Figueroa, currently the Deputy Chief Engineer
for Systems Engineering at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC,
was appointed to replace Hubbard as Acting Director, starting
May 6.

"Scott Hubbard was given 'mission impossible' and turned it


into 'mission accomplished,'" said Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate
Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters. "When we
were hit with the back-to-back loss of two Mars missions, I
knew we had to get the best person on the job. Scott did a
top-to-bottom reorganization of the program, and earlier this
month we had the first launch in the new program, the 2001
Mars Odyssey."

In announcing his transition, Hubbard said, "I promised our


Administrator, Mr. Goldin, and Dr. Weiler that I would devote
at least a year doing everything I could to fix the problems
in the Mars program and deliver a new approach we could all be
proud of."

"After a challenging and rewarding year, it was time to assess


the personal side of the equation," added Hubbard. "After
considering everything, my wife and I decided we would return
to our home in California. I look forward to the excitement of
my return to Ames (NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field,
CA) and a bit of vacation."

"Scott's replacement, Orlando Figueroa, is very highly


regarded for his achievements in space exploration," said Dr.
Weiler. "I feel confident that the Mars program will be in
extremely good hands. With Hubbard at the helm the past year
and Figueroa ready to take charge, Mars exploration now has a
solid basis to build on and a clear direction for the future."
Figueroa was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Prior to his
present position, he spent 22 years of his career at the NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. His experience at
Goddard includes engineering leadership positions with the
Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), and tenure as Head of the
Cryogenics Technology Section; Manager for the Superfluid
Helium On Orbit Transfer (SHOOT) Experiment; Manager for the
Small Explorers (SMEX) Project; Manager for the Explorers
Program; and Director of the Systems, Technology, and Advanced
Concepts Directorate.

In accepting the new position, Figueroa said, "It is a real


privilege to re-join the Space Science community that I
dedicated so much of my career to at Goddard. I look forward
to building upon the foundation that Scott has left behind,
and to the excitement of directing such an important and
challenging program." Figueroa joined NASA Headquarters as the
Deputy Chief Engineer for Systems Engineering in February
2000, at the request of the NASA Administrator. In this
position, Figueroa was responsible for developing and
implementing the strategies and framework for excellence and
advancement of the system engineering capability in the
agency.

Throughout his career, Figueroa has received numerous awards


for Group Achievement and Outstanding Performance in
engineering and management. He was awarded the NASA
Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1993, and the Community Stars
Award from the Maryland Science Commission for his work in
innovative education programs involving NASA, industry and
Maryland schools. He is the author of several technical
publications in the field of cryogenics and the SMEX missions.
Figueroa resides in Silver Spring, MD, with his wife,
Josephine, and two sons, Daniel and Alexis.

Hubbard was asked to come to NASA Headquarters last March


during the investigation into the two failed Mars missions and
given responsibility to fundamentally restructure the agency's
entire Mars exploration program. One major goal was to address
the "lessons learned" and other recommendations of the
investigation boards to ensure missions have the greatest
chance for success. Another was to address the overall
scientific rationale for exploring Mars.
Three major changes successfully implemented were the
initiation of a new Program Director's Office at NASA
Headquarters; establishment of a new effective management
relationship among Headquarters, NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) and contractors; and the creation of a Mars
mission queue which thoroughly integrates science and
technology with sound management, and provides a vision for
the next two decades.

In recent months the new program has been reviewed and


endorsed by groups which include the Mars Program Independent
Assessment Team chaired by Thomas Young (Lockheed Martin,
Ret.), two committees of the National Academy of Sciences and
NASA Advisory committees. NASA's budget request for the Mars
Exploration Program provides more than $500 million for Mars
over 5 years for new missions in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and a
sample return mission possibly as early as 2011.

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