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Harrington Leads MRO Groundwork
Tammy Harrington has a key role in NASA's upcoming Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission, which will meticulously examine the Red Planet from low orbit and provide more data than all previous missions combined.

MRO inside the Vertical Integration Facility As a Mission Integration Manager (MIM) for Kennedy Space Center's Launch Services Program, she is the primary interface between the spacecraft and the launch vehicle. Harrington also leads the Mission Integration Team, comprising more than two dozen engineers and analysts. The MIT manages all integration and vehicle engineering aspects of the mission.

Image left: The encapsulated Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is being mated with the Atlas V rocket already in the tower. Image credit: NASA/KSC

"The MIM reduces the overall mission risk by using launch vehicle capabilities, and schedules and budgets, to lower the spacecraft risk without increasing the launch risk," she explained.

Her MRO responsibilities, which began in 2001, include managing the process of joining the MRO spacecraft and the Atlas V launch vehicle. She determined what Atlas V launch vehicle modifications were required to accommodate the MRO spacecraft, and how the MRO needed to be designed in order to successfully fly on the Atlas V launch vehicle.

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All of this work will culminate with the MRO launch, scheduled to occur between Aug. 10 and Sept. 5. The mission's findings will characterize Mars' surface, subsurface and atmosphere, and identify potential landing sites for future missions.

As a weather satellite, the MRO will help to understand the Martian climate. As a geological explorer, the spacecraft will identify water-related landforms and aqueous surface deposits. As a site finder, it will observe hundreds of locations to assist in future exploration, and as a communications satellite the MRO will relay data from future Mars missions.

"My inspiration comes into play when I think of the monumental effort dozens of Launch Services Program engineers dedicated themselves to in order to accomplish this task," said Harrington. "I am impressed and inspired by their dedication to success."

MRO Mission Integration Manager, Tammy Harrington Image left: As leader of the Mission Integration Team, Harrington is responsible for managing overall launch services integration and vehicle engineering of the MRO mission. Image credit: NASA/KSC

Harrington, who joined NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 1985 as a co-op student, enjoys challenges. She took on the rigorous certification process that was required because this mission will be the first government payload to launch on the Lockheed Martin Atlas V launch vehicle.

"Once we get as close to launch as we currently are for the MRO mission, I find it rewarding when everything comes into place, and each organization is satisfied their requirements have been met," Harrington said.

For further information, visit:
Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter Web Site
Vision for Space Exploration
Jennifer Wolfinger, KSC Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center