Reporters interview Rick (center) in the cleanroom with the Stardust spacecraft.

"Rick will be missed at JPL as a respected leader in our space exploration program. He was truly guiding us as we reached for the stars and he managed to have an impact on a comet along the way. His spirit will continue to inspire us as we continue our quest to understand the Universe." -- Larry Bryant, Flight Team Trainer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Born in Austin, Texas, Richard "Rick" Grammier (1955 - 2011) had been interested in math since he was a child. His mother was a math teacher who worked with the monkeys used at the beginning of the space program, and she influenced Grammier to excel in math. Grammier dreamed of attending West Point from the age of seven. He achieved his dream, earning a Bachelor of Science there in 1977. "That's where I learned you could always do more than you ever thought possible, and even more if you teamed up and took care of each other," he said.

JPL is "like one big family working together to solve difficult but exciting problems that few people ever get the chance to address."
- Rick Grammier

In 1989, after working for a company in Arizona in a non-space related role, Grammier joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He returned to college and received his master's degree in electrical and computer engineering from California State Polytechnic University.

Grammier contributed to numerous flight projects at JPL including Cassini (command and data subsystem manager), Stardust (project engineer and deputy project manager), Deep Impact (project manager), and Juno (project manager). He also managed the Laboratory's Office of Mission Assurance. Grammier enjoyed working at JPL because he felt that his co-workers were "like one big family working together to solve difficult but exciting problems that few people ever get the chance to address."

Grammier was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for Cassini, as well as two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals for his accomplishments on Stardust and Deep Impact.

He enjoyed travel, cooking, gardening, camping and spending time with his family.

Grammier passed away on January 23, 2011. He was 55. He is survived by his wife, Laura, and his children Daniel, David, daughter in-law Christine, Matthew, Jackson, and Jessica.

Asteroid 18728 Grammier

This asteroid was named in honor of Richard ("Rick") S. Grammier (1955-2011) was director of solar system exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He worked as manager or project manager on missions such as Cassini, Stardust, Deep Impact and Juno.

It was discovered on 22 May 1998 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.

Diagram of 18728 Grammier (1998 KZ3)
18728 Grammier (1998 KZ3)