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JPL Officials Honored by National Space Society for Mars Rover Landings

Published on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | 12:06 pm
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Planetary Science Director Bobby Braun, left, and JPL Chief Engineer Rob Manning, right, pictured in an undated photo: (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director for Planetary Science Bobby Braun and JPL Chief Engineer Rob Manning have been awarded the 2021 Space Pioneer Award from the National Space Foundation for their contributions to the successful landings of several rovers on Mars, JPL announced last week.

Specifically, the award is in recognition of their work to help JPL design and build solutions for the harrowing “entry, descent and landing” phase of the mission, also known as EDL.

“EDL is the process by which a spacecraft slows down and maneuvers through the thin Martian atmosphere so that its payload safely touches down on the planet’s surface,” JPL said in a written statement. 

The process has been described by engineers as “Seven Minutes of Terror.”

“NASA’s most recent example was the Feb. 18, 2021, landing of the Perseverance rover, delivered to the surface by the Mars 2020 spacecraft.”

“The Space Pioneer Awards recognize individuals and teams whose accomplishments have helped to open the space frontier,” the statement added.

The awards were presented at JPL last month. A recording of the ceremony is scheduled to be streamed online on July 16 during the virtual National Space Society International Space Development Conference in June.

More information on the viewing can be found online at the conference website at


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