San Antonio native helps NASA launch rover to Mars

Phillip Hargrove grew up in San Antonio but had dreams that were out of this world

SAN ANTONIO – Phillip Hargrove is a San Antonio native that helped NASA launch a rover to Mars. The rover, Perseverance, is on a mission to the red planet to search for evidence of past life.

“Every single launch, there’s something different and that really keeps it exciting,” said Hargrove.

Hargrove is a Trajectory Analyst and was part of a group that helped determine the safest path for the rocket that carries the rover. He said it’s been two years of work.

“Just thinking that this is really happening instead of it just being on my computer was a pretty special moment,” he said.

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His love for space began at an early age. Hargrove would spend his summers in Houston at the Johnson Space Camp and learned about mission control.

While many his age were looking ahead to their future, Hargrove looked up.

“I was so excited to learn about something new and just imagining these worlds that are so different than Earth,” said Hargrove.

After graduating from Reagan High School in 2019, he went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford University and a master’s degree at the University of Michigan.

In early 2017, he landed the opportunity of a lifetime with NASA.

“Just coming into the gate and seeing John F. Kennedy Space Center and seeing the launch pads. I get chills sometimes thinking about it,” he said.

Hargrove said all the research being done at NASA serves a bigger purpose for the world.

“It’s science for the sake of science and science for the sake of benefiting humanity,” Hargrove said.

His advice for young San Antonians is to ask questions and search for answers.

“Follow the things that your curiosity takes you to and preserve,” said Hargrove.

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