Justin Foley Head Shot

Justin Foley

Mars 2020 Rover Testbed Engineer, Jet Propulsion Lab

Amateur astronomer, satellite tracker, Mars robot builder, rocket launch junkie.

Justin grew up in in the San Francisco Bay Area and took to science and space at an early age. He attended the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA where he immediately joined the CubeSat team and started helping design, test, build, launch, and operate small spacecraft. After obtaining his bachelors in Physics and masters in Aerospace Engineering, he was hired by the university to do full time launch integration contract work, helping launch over 130 satellites for various universities, companies, and government entities.

Early in his student career at Cal Poly, he witnessed the conception of the LightSail CubeSat mission. Years later, he helped organize and run pre-launch operational readiness tests, day in the life tests, vibration and thermal vacuum tests, and eventually commanded LightSail 1 to deploy its sail in orbit from the ground station at Cal Poly.

In 2017, Justin left his position at Cal Poly to pursue a career in interplanetary exploration, and now works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA as a systems engineer for the Mars 2020 rover. As a Pasadena local, Justin also stays in touch with his LightSail family at The Planetary Society, and continues to share his love of space and science with the public by bringing his telescope to local outreach events like the monthly public star parties at Griffith Observatory.

While living in San Luis Obispo and working with launch vehicles as part of his job, Justin became addicted to seeing rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base. His launch diary now has over 50 entries from various launch sites, including two Space Shuttles and the inaugural Falcon Heavy at Kennedy Space Center.




Latest Articles

LightSail 2 Launch Viewing: Tips & Tricks

LightSail 2 is launching on the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is one payload of many on the mission known collectively as STP-2. Space Test Program (STP) is a crucial part of the US Air Force’s development of advanced technologies in space.

Latest Planetary Radio Appearances

Ready to Sail! LightSail 2 Deploys its Silvery Wings

Join us as the little cubesat successfully unfurls its solar sail! You’ll hear from members of the LightSail 2 mission team on the morning of July 23, 2019, when the critical command was sent to the spacecraft.