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Photo of Ken Atkins Ken Atkins was Project Manager for NASA's STARDUST mission to comet Wild 2 from the beginning in June 1995, through the launch in February of 1999, and for the first year and a half of flight. The objective of this mission is to fly through the dusty head of the comet to capture/collect particles and return them to Earth in January 2006.

After transferring project management to Tom Duxbury in August 2000, Ken served as JPL's owner for Project Leadership Processes (PLP). In this capacity, he played a central role in the corrective actions necessary in the wake of the Mars 98 failures.

Ken retired from Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in February 2002. But as a retiree, he has continued part-time providing support for Project Managers with mentoring activities and working the development of the Project Managers Workshop. Ken also serves on several boards reviewing JPL's proposals for new space projects.

photo of a congratulatory banner being held by Ken Atkin's grandchildren
Ken Atkin's grandchildren created this congratulatory banner after the Stardust capsule successfully landed in Utah.
Ken's background of technical and management activity includes nine years as an officer/pilot in the U.S. Air Force and over 32 years at JPL with a career spanning mission analysis, power systems, avionics systems, and project management.

Ken has a B.Sc. in Aeronautical Engineering (AE) from St. Louis University ('58), MSAE from the Air Force Institute of Technology ('66), and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (AAE) from the University of Illinois ('74).

Ken is originally from Amarillo, Texas. He has been married 44 years to Barbara (originally from St. Louis, MO) and they have two adult children: son, Lee Atkins (engineering grad from USC), and daughter, Laurie Sargent (communications grad from UC San Diego). There are 4 grandchildren (3 boys and one girl). Home now is La Crescenta, California, near the Jet Propulsion Lab.


Last updated February 3, 2006
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