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Vladimir Arutyunov


4800 Oak Grove Drive

M/S 82-105

Pasadena, CA 91109


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Member of:

347R - Robot Ops and V&V

Vladimir Arutyunov

Member of Technical Staff


Vlad Arutyunov currently serves as the Testbeds Lead for the Robotic Transfer Assembly System, a part of the Capture, Containment, and Return System for the Mars Sample Return campaign. Vlad's work has clustered around hardware development, operations development, systems engineering, and verification & validation of hardware systems for sample handling, sample acquisition, and surface gripping. He has contributed to or led teams for various flight and research projects. Vlad's primary research interests are related to Effective Altruism and longtermism.


8/2010 - 12/2015 California State University Northridge - B.S., Mechanical Engineering, minor in Sustainability. Cum Laude.

Professional Experience

(2023-Present) Mars Sample Return (MSR) Campaign, Capture, Containment, and Return System (CCRS), On-Orbit Assembly Testbed Systems (OATS), Subsystem Robotic Systems Engineer (RSE), team technical lead.

(2021-2023) Mars Sample Return (MSR) Campaign, Capture, Containment, and Return System (CCRS), Robotic Transfer Assembly System (RTAS), Testbeds Team Lead.

(2018-2021) Mars 2020 Rover, Sampling & Caching Subsystem (SCS), Adaptive Caching Assembly (ACA). ACA operations development and testing, V&V, and early Bit Exchange testing.

(2017-2018) Mars Science Laboratory, Surface Mission Engineering Operations; Feed-Extended Drilling (FED) early testing engineering support. Lead for engineering-model rover force-torque sensor replacement operation.

(2015-2017) Asteroid Redirect Mission, Capture Module; architecture development, design, assembly, integration, and testing for Microspine Gripper Tool drivetrain.

(2014) IRIS - In-situ & Remote Inspection Robot; Gecko Synthetic Adhesive (GSA) gripping end-effector mechanical design, build, and test.

Research Interests

Effective Altruism, longtermism, existential and catastrophic risks, emerging technologies, philosophy of engineering, philosophy of technology, philosophy of science, robotic systems engineering, extraterrestrial sampling and mobility, in-space assembly and manufacturing, meta-engineering, engineering methodology, engineering education.


JPL Team Award, 2023

Mars Sample Return (MSR) Program, Capture, Containment, and Return System (CCRS) Project

  • Robotic Transfer Assembly System (RTAS) Team

JPL Team Award, 2020

Mars 2020, Sampling and Caching Subsystem (SCS)

  • Adaptive Caching Assembly (ACA) Team

JPL Voyager Award, 2018

Mars Science Laboratory, Engineering Operations

  • For outstanding technical excellence developing and conducting the replacement of the faulty Robotic Arm Force Torque Sensor in VSTB.

NASA Honor Award, 2018

MSL VSTB Support and Upgrade Team – Group Achievement Award

  • For outstanding achievement supporting and improving the MSL VSTB in parallel with high priority testing support, anomaly investigations and hardware re-configurations.

JPL Team Award, 2016

Microspine Tool for the Asteroid Redirect Mission

  • For major progress with microspine gripper tool development leading to successful passing of the KDP-B milestone.

Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America, 2015

  • Young Engineer Award


  1. A. Parness, A. Willig, A. Berg, M. Shekels, V. Arutyunov, C. Dandino, B. Kennedy., "A Microspine Tool: Grabbing and Anchoring to Boulders on the Asteroid Redirect Mission.," IEEE Aerospace 2017, 01 January 2017.
  1. G. Youssef, V. Arutyunov., "An Approach to Integrate Systems Engineering into Senior Design," 2016 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, 26 June 2016.
  1. Jiang et al., "Scaling Controllable Adhesives to Grapple Floating Objects in Space," International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2015, 01 May 2015.
  1. Ho et al., "Design and Evaluation of NextGen Aircraft Separation Assurance Concepts," DASC 2012, 01 October 2012.