SIRTF Profiles: Mary Ellen ("M.E.") McElveney
Executive Assistant to Bill Green, SSC/IPAC Manager
Had I known that at this stage of my life I would be surrounded by scientists, engineers, and astronomers, perhaps I would have paid more attention back in junior high. Aside from thinking my teacher was cute, science was not my favorite subject.
However, on May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, astronaut Alan Shepard - one of the original seven astronauts chosen by NASA for its Mercury program - became the first American to journey into space. I was instantly smitten, both with the excitement of Kennedy's "new frontier," as well as with the adorable astronaut. I did my term paper on The Space Program - such as it was in the early 60's - and earned my only "A" in Science.
Thirty-five years later, after a detour in television advertising, along with many years underfoot in the theatre, I found myself returning to the space program, now working at Caltech in the SIRTF Science Center. I take care of folks; I make sure they have what they need, where they need it, when they need it. It's a lot like being backstage taking care of actors, but with different props. I'm fortunate in that with both jobs, it's like going to camp and playing with my friends - everyday.
Before joining the SIRTF team, I spent 18 months on the ACE mission (Advanced Composition Explorer) and was determined not to miss the Florida launch. It was thrilling, gasp-inspiring – actually, I've never heard the word that describes the excitement of a launch. Maybe it doesn't exist.
I'm eagerly anticipating January 9, 2003. I'll be at Kennedy Space Center, my eyes glued on SIRTF, now clearly visible on the launch pad, perched atop a Delta rocket - awaiting the final countdown.