former Project Manager, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, NASA
MiMi Aung was the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager from the earliest stages of development in 2014 through to the successful experimental flight test demonstrations. On April 19th 2021, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made humanity’s first powered-controlled flight on Mars – a true American “Wright Brothers” moment, on another planet. Since then, Ingenuity has been flying longer, higher and farther, demonstrating the flight technology as well as operational utility scenarios for future space exploration missions.
Ms. Aung received her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after which 1990, she joined the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where she started her career working on the mathematical algorithms for deep space communication. In the 30 years that followed at JPL, she took on different roles in space flight projects, Deep Space Network projects, technology development, and organizational line management. She engaged in multiple technical disciplines including: Autonomous Systems; spacecraft Guidance, Navigation & Control; multiple-spacecraft Formation Flying; and Deep Space Signal Processing & Communications. During this time, Ms. Aung became passionate about advancing autonomous capabilities of space-based systems and focused her work on incorporating first-of-a-kind capabilities into future NASA projects.
Recently, Ms. Aung joined Amazon as part of Project Kuiper, an initiative to increase broadband access through a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit. She is highly motivated by the opportunity to extend high-quality broadband to more places, including unserved and underserved communities around the world.
On the personal front, Ms. Aung enthusiastically promotes critical thinking and hard work in pursuit of one’s heart-felt goals and objectives. Ms. Aung was named to Time 100: The Most Influential People of 2021 – TIME Magazine. She was also named to BBC’s 100 Women 2019.