The true story of how an unlikely leader helped inspire a team of rocket scientists to achieve the near impossible: landing a two-thousand pound rover on Mars.
Few organizations solve as many impossible problems as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and nobody knows more about leading rocket scientists to unlikely breakthroughs than Adam Steltzner.
As the phase lead and development manager for EDL (entry, descent and landing) of the Curiosity rover to Mars, Steltzner spearheaded the creation of one of engineering’s wackiest kluges—the sky crane—that allowed the heaviest rover in the history of space exploration to land on Mars unscathed.
Steltzner is no ordinary engineer. His path to leadership was about as unlikely as they come. A child of beatnik parents, he was a daredevil and avid mountain biker, breaking thirty-two bones before squeaking through high school. He blew off college in favor of work at a health food store and playing bass in a band. After an interest in the movement of the stars led him to enroll part time at community college, Steltzner discovered an astonishing gift for math and physics. Within years he got his PhD and ensconced himself within the offbeat Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s decidedly unbureaucratic cousin, where success in a mission is the only metric that matters.
The Right Kind of Crazy is the story of the teamwork, drama, and extraordinary feats of innovation at the Jet Propulsion Lab, that culminated in landing the rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. It also weaves Steltzner’s professional life—centering on the ten years he and his team spent planning and then executing the landing of the rover—with his unlikely journey from academic underachiever to rocket scientist.
Along the way, readers will learn about what makes effective teams, how to stay on task for the long haul, and strategies for solving incredibly complex problems. The Right Kind of Crazy is a book for anyone striving for excellence. Download and start listening now!