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Miguel San Martín was born in northern Patagonia, Argentina, and grew up in Buenos Aires. Inspired by the Apollo and Viking missions, he came to the United States to attend university and fulfill his dream of contributing to space exploration by working for NASA.
His first job was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he is now chief engineer for the Guidance and Control Section and provides support and consultation for current and future science missions. Early in his career, he participated in the Cassini mission to Saturn. He was later named chief engineer for the guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) system for the Pathfinder mission, which in 1997 landed Sojourner, the first robotic vehicle to land on Mars. He assumed the same role for the highly successful mission that landed the robotic vehicles Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004. Subsequently, he was the GN&C chief engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed the one-ton rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars on August 5, 2012. He was a coarchitect of Curiosity’s innovative SkyCrane landing architecture and also served as its deputy phase lead for entry, descent, and landing.
For his contributions Mr. San Martín was awarded two NASA Exceptional Achievement in Engineering Medals, named JPL Fellow in 2013, and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2019.
He graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University with a degree in electrical engineering and was named Engineering Student of the Year. He received his master’s from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in aeronautics and astronautics with a specialization in guidance, navigation, and control.