The Martian

Mitch Henderson Character Analysis

As Flight Director for Ares 3, Mitch has strong opinions about how to communicate with the Ares 3 crew. He clashes with Teddy over the decision not to tell the crew that Watney is still alive, and he strongly advocates the risky Ralph Purnell Maneuver. He is likely responsible for leaking the plans for the Ralph Purnell Maneuver to the Ares 3 crew, which resulted in the Hermes mutiny. Though at times abrasive, Mitch’s stubbornness and rogue willingness to take risks ultimately proves to be an asset.

Mitch Henderson Quotes in The Martian

The The Martian quotes below are all either spoken by Mitch Henderson or refer to Mitch Henderson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Broadway Books edition of The Martian published in 2014.
Chapter 16 Quotes

“Space travel is dangerous,” Mitch said. “We can’t make this a discussion about what’s safest.” “I disagree,” Teddy said. “This is absolutely a discussion about what’s safest. And about how many lives are at stake. Both plans are risky, but resupplying Watney only risks one life while the Rich Purnell Maneuver risks six.”

Related Characters: Teddy Sanders (speaker), Mitch Henderson (speaker), Mark Watney, Rich Purnell
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mitch Henderson Character Timeline in The Martian

The timeline below shows where the character Mitch Henderson appears in The Martian. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
...top management, including Teddy, Venkat, Annie, JPL director Bruce Ng, and Ares 3 flight director Mitch Henderson. She’s extremely nervous—she feels out of place. Mindy has been put in charge of... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
...Venkat have already decided not to tell the Ares 3 crew that Watney is alive, Mitch challenges this decision. He argues that the information would improve morale, and claims the decision... (full context)
Chapter 11
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
Just as Teddy gets off the phone with the president, Mitch knocks on the door and, once again, makes his case that NASA should inform the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
...for their daily “data dump” with emails from home. Today’s includes a voice message from Mitch informing the crew that Watney is alive and a rescue plan is in progress. Mitch... (full context)
Chapter 15
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
The Betrayal of the Familiar Theme Icon
Mitch, Venkat, Teddy, and Annie all watch the Iris launch. On Hermes, the Ares 3 crew... (full context)
Chapter 16
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
Venkat calls a secret meeting with Annie, Mitch, Teddy, and Bruce under the name “Project Elrond”—a Lord of the Rings reference. He explains... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
Mitch believes it’s Lewis’s right to make the decision, and he is almost certain she will... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
The next day, Venkat, Mitch, Teddy, Bruce, and Annie meet again. Teddy announces that they’ll send the Iris 2 food... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
Teddy calls Mitch into his office and tells him that though he has no proof, he knows Mitch... (full context)
Chapter 19
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
...CNSA guide and translator, Su Bin Bao. The three share a joke about how difficult Mitch—who is already at Jiuquan—can be. (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Solitude and the Human Need for Connection Theme Icon
Weir gives readers a brief glimpse of Mitch, Venkat, and Teddy at work in a Jiuquan office, then cuts back to a video... (full context)
Chapter 21
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
The Betrayal of the Familiar Theme Icon
At NASA, Teddy, Venkat, Mitch, Annie, Mindy, and Martian meteorologist Randall Carter meet. Mindy explains that Watney has modified the... (full context)
Chapter 24
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Back at NASA, Mitch, Mindy, Venkat, and Bruce examine satellite images of the crash for any sign that Watney... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Back on Earth, Mindy informs Mitch, Bruce, Venkat, and Annie that Watney’s Morse code message indicates he’s fixed everything. Venkat asks... (full context)
Chapter 25
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
At NASA, Brendan Hutch, the Flight Director, tells a very anxious Mitch to get some sleep. Annie tells Venkat that the pressroom is overflowing with reporters from... (full context)
Chapter 26
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
At NASA Mission Control, Mitch listens to the launch. On Hermes, Beck and Vogel wait in the airlock. Beck tells... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
...make the rescue risky, but possible. Lewis informs Mission control of the new plan. Venkat, Mitch, and Annie are shocked. Annie goes to inform the press that the Hermes crew is... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour Theme Icon
...from intercept. At NASA, Teddy gets off the phone with the president. He, Venkat, and Mitch feel totally helpless. Johanssen activates the bomb, breaching the airlock doors, and the thrust of... (full context)
Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive Theme Icon
Solitude and the Human Need for Connection Theme Icon
The Media Theme Icon
...into applause. While people celebrate around the world, Watney’s parents in Chicago embrace one another. Mitch and Venkat look at each other and sigh with relief. Teddy takes a blue folder... (full context)