Deep Impact Project Manager
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Brian's Bio Up Close and Personal
Brian Muirhead has worked on numerous spacecraft and technology projects since coming to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1978. His initial assignment at JPL was building flight hardware on the Galileo spacecraft now in orbit around Jupiter. In 1984 Brian was assigned the leadership of the Advanced Spacecraft Development Group and in 1992 he took over the Mechanical Systems Integration Section. Other key assignments included leading the Sample Acquisition, Analysis and Preservation technology project, whose goal was to provide core technologies to conduct scientific exploration of the surface of planets; and to develop a robotic rover for the exploration of Mars. Following the Challenger accident in 1986 he was assigned to work with Sally Ride at NASA Headquarters to help develop a strategic plan that would provide new direction to the Agency.
He was responsible for major elements of two of JPL's first "faster, better, cheaper" developments. The first was the Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-C), which flew on the Space Shuttle in Oct. 1993 and again in September 1994 and returned first of a kind radar images of the Earth. The second was the Miniature Seeker Technology Integration spacecraft (MSTI-1), which was developed in an unprecedented 6 months and launched in 1992 to demonstrate rapid deployment of sensors into Earth orbit.
Most recently he was responsible for the design, development, test and launch of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft that landed successfully on Mars on July 4, 1997. Following the successful landing he was named Project Manager. In August, 1999 Brian was appointed Manager of the Deep Impact Project whose mission is to attempt the first ever impact of a comet nucleus to uncover the structure and composition of these 4.5 billion year old time capsules dating back to the beginning of our solar system.
He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1977 and an MS in Aeronautical Engineering from Caltech in 1982. He is the recipient of NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal for his work on SIR-C and the Exceptional Leadership Medal for his work on Mars Pathfinder. He was named Engineer of the Year for 1997 by Design News Magazine and awarded the 1997 Laureate for Space by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine. He is the author of "High Velocity Leadership" (Harper Business, 1999) and "The Mars Pathfinder Approach to 'Faster-Better-Cheaper'" (Pritchett and Associates, 1998).