Miguel San Martin was born on January 6, 1959 on his family farm in Villa Regina, Rio Negro in northern Patagonia. He grew up in Buenos Aires. After graduating from the Don Bosco industrial school, Pius IX, he came to the United States to pursue his university studies and his dream of contributing to space exploration by working for NASA. He graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, being named Engineering Student of the Year. He received his Masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering with a specialization in Guidance, Navigation, and Control for interplanetary space exploration. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the NASA center that specializes in interplanetary space exploration.
Early in his career, he participated in the Magellan mission to Venus and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He was later named Chief Engineer for the Guidance, Navigation, and Control system for the Pathfinder mission, which landed Sojourner, the first robotic vehicle to land on Mars. He later assumed the same role for the highly successful mission that landed the robotic vehicles, Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004. Most recently, he was the Chief Engineer for Guidance, Navigation, and Control for the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed successfully the one ton rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars on August 5, 2012. He was a co-architect of Curiosity’s innovative SkyCrane landing architecture and also served as its Deputy Chief for Entry, Descent, and Landing. Throughout his career, Miguel has served as a panel consultant for various missions including Topex, Mars Polar Lander, Deep Impact, and Phoenix.
Miguel has been married to his wife, Susan, for 28 years and is proud father to Samantha (25) and Madeleine (19).