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Photo of Kirk Breitenbach
   Kirk Breitenbach

What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?

Focus your efforts on the things for which you have a real passion and then dedicate yourself to those things. I think this advise can be worthwhile both professionally and personally.

What are your personal goals for the future?

To continue to learn about the things that interest me - particularly to add to my scientific understanding about things around me and to share that understanding with others who might also be interested.

What are your dreams for the future of exploration?

I think it is inevitable that humankind will explore beyond the surface of our home planet both with robotic machines and more personally with human explorers. I'm excited to be directly a part of the beginning of that exploration and I image a day when humans will follow in the "footsteps" of the robotic space vehicles and extend our human touch beyond the Earth-Moon system. At the same time I have hopes that the robotic exploration will continue to lead the way as pathfinders to future human exploration and continue to return information about previously unexplored areas in our universe.

What portion of this mission interests you the most?

There are two things that interest me most. The day to day engineering that involves solving design and development problems that are fun and challenging while the spacecraft is being developed and the scientific discoveries that are made when the spacecraft is in operation.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As I recall, I didn't really have a career picked out back in elementary school. I was always fascinated in understanding how things worked in the natural world. It wasn't until I was near college age that I realized that there was a field called phyiscs that dealt with just the kind of thing that fascinated me.

When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?

While I was in college studying Physics I applied for a part time job at the university's space sciences lab doing drafting for the mechanical engineers on a NASA project. I had always enjoyed drafting so I had enough skills in that area to get the job. After a while I was given the responsibility to do some mechanical design work and after I was graduated I was asked to join the mechanical engineering team on the Project. Since the team was a small one I had the opportunity to take on jobs that were demanding beyond my experience level but it allowed me to grow fast and gain lots of great on the job experience.

Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?

There are many fascinating unanswered questions about Mars such as; was the martian geology largely formed by flowing water or something else in ancient times and if so what happened to that water. Mars is our closest planetary neighbor and it's the natural "stepping stone" to many aspects of future exploration of the rest of the solar system like developing the ablity to bring back to Earth a sample of soil and rocks taken from the surface of Mars and of course developing the ability for human exploration to the planets.

What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?

The same thing that I find exciting about any exploration - to learn something new that you didn't know before.

Do you work on any other projects at your company?

Currently I am dedicated 100 percent to the MRO project. In the past I've worked on the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Genesis project that collected a sample of the solar wind out in space and returned that sample to Earth.

Kirk Breitenbach:
  Background Information
  Contributions to Mars Exploration
  Personal Reflections