Orlando Figueroa (b. September 9, 1955) was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. When he was a child he loved to learn how mechanical toys worked. When he was in elementary school, he spent most of his time building things and looking for solutions to problems. In high school he was in advanced mathematics. He fell in love with space after that. He would gaze at the stars and moon and would try to imagine what it would be like to travel into space.
After high school Figueroa attended the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and in 1978, he earned his Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at school in Puerto Rico he took a few advanced courses in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Works[change | change source]
In 1982, Figueroa was hired by NASA and was named Head of the Cryogenics Technology Section at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Among the other positions that Figueroa has held are Lead Cryogenic Engineer for the Cryogenic Optical Assembly of the Cosmic Background Explorer, Manager for the Superfluid Helium On Orbit Transfer Shuttle Experiment, Manager for the Small Explorer Project, Manager for the Explorer Program and Director of the Systems, Technology and Advanced Concepts Directorate.
In 1997, Figueroa was a member of the Senior Executive Service of the U.S. Federal Government. On September 2003, he was the Director for the Solar Systems Division in the Space Science at NASA Headquarters and he also held the position of Director for Mars Exploration.
Accomplishments[change | change source]
As Director of Mars Exploration, Figueroa led a team of hundreds of scientists, engineers and program specialists in one of the agency's most important projects to determine if life ever existed on Mars. The program's plan is to put humans on Mars. Under his directorship the Mars Explorer Rover mission launched Spirit and Opportunity in 2004. The launching of two rovers within days of each other had never been done before, and it was accomplished in three years.
In August 2005, Figueroa was the Director for System Safety and Mission Assurance at the Goddard Space Flight Center. In October 2005, Figueroa was named Director of Applied Engineering and Technology at Goddard. He was responsible for 1,300 employees and provided guidance on engineering and system technology. In January 2010, he became Deputy Center Director for Science and Technology of Goddard Space Flight Center. Mr. Figueroa now lives in Maryland with his family.