Mars 2020 Mission & Rover Perseverance’s Leader & Chief Engineer, Jet Propulsion Lab
An aspiring rock star turned Ph.D. rocket scientist, Adam Steltzner is praised as a cutting-edge innovator and a leader who literally brings out the very best in his teams. Adam serves has Chief Engineer of the
current Mars 2020 Mission & Rover Perseverance that has ultimate objective of determining if life has existed on Mars.
A mission ten years in the making, Mars 2020 was plunged into uncertainty at a crucial juncture by the global pandemic. Preparing a mission for Mars and not making any mistakes is immensely difficult under the best conditions. Suddenly, Steltzner and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team of 6,000+ was forced to operate remotely. The collaborative teams pressed on and remarkably maintained all of the original assembly and launch timetables. After a 6-month journey through space, history was made on February 18th when the Rover Perseverance spectacularly landed on the Martian surface, more than 200,000,000 miles from Earth.
Adam earlier led a breakthrough team that created the ingenious “sky crane” landing system for the Rover Curiosity that landed on Mars in 2012. The achievement prompted leadership guru Simon Sinek to
state, “[Steltzner] shows us that doing what others think is impossible takes more than grit and courage. It takes the ability to inspire people . . . It takes leadership.” Steltzner was also honored with the “American Ingenuity” Award from Smithsonian Institute.
Adam is the author of The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership and High Stakes Innovation, that was named a “best leadership book of the year” by the Washington Post. CEO READ
picked the book as “Editor’s Choice” for its unique strategies and perspectives.
Steltzner brings a rock-star’s presence and a storyteller’s gift to the stage with his keynote speeches. Adam has mastered the art of managing complex teams and the concept of “making ideas reality.” He
knows first-hand how collaborative cultures foster innovation and how team-minded engagement fuels performance. And he inspires audiences to dare greatly – to embrace the power of curiosity, creativity,
and courage to do what others say is impossible.