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James C. Leary
MESSENGER Mission Systems Engineer
Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory

Few people know the ins and outs of NASA's first Mercury orbiter like James Leary, MESSENGER's mission systems engineer. In this critical job James leads the technical development of the spacecraft, from integration of MESSENGER's key systems and science instruments through to prelaunch testing. He also served as deputy mission systems engineer before moving into his current role last summer.

A staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., since 1997, James has also worked on a number of Navy and Defense Department projects. He served on the Theater Wide Tactical Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Engineering and the DD-21 Risk Engineering teams, while improving the way the Navy evaluates the navigation systems on Trident submarines.

James came to APL from NASA Langley Research Center, where, among several projects, he worked on satellite systems designed to monitor earthquake-induced fires and study Earth's upper atmosphere.

A graduate of West Virginia University -- with bachelor's degrees in physics and aerospace engineering - James also has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the George Washington University Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences, and is nearly finished with his doctorate in engineering management.

NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center