Robert T. Mitchell


Robert T. Mitchell

MS'64; MSEE '65

Program Manager
Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn

Bob Mitchell is originally from Springville, Pennsylvania. After earning a bachelor’s degree at John Brown University, he came to the University of Arkansas and completed two master's degrees, one in mathematics in 1964 and the other in electrical engineering in 1965.

While at the U of A, Bob researched control systems, and after he graduated, he took a job as a weapons systems analyst . After a year at this job, he applied for a position at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which turned out to be the beginning of a life-long career.

In the 1960s and 70s, Bob worked on trajectory design, mission design and interplanetary navigation. He was involved in the Mariner’s 1971 mission to Mars and the Viking’s mission to Mars in 1976. In the 80s, Bob was the Galileo mission design manager, in charge of several redesigns of the Galileo spacecraft. During that time, he led a team that developed the Venus Earth-Earth Gravity Assist, and this group was honored by NASA for their work.

In 1998, Bob was named program manager for the Cassini-Huygens missions to Saturn that was undertaken by NASA and the European Space Agency. In this role, he directed the mission objectives and the engineering responses to the mission requirement of one of the most ambitious planetary explorations to date. Bob coordinated the work of more than 260 scientists from 17 countries.

Bob has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Award for his work on Viking navigation, and again for his work on Galileo mission design. He was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Award twice as well, for his work on the Galileo Project and his leadership on the Cassini Program. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society. in 2005, he was awarded a Citation of Distinguished Alumni by the Arkansas Alumni Association.