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SIRTF Profiles: Bill Irace

SIRTF Deputy Project Manager

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I'm Bill Irace, SIRTF's Deputy Project Manager at JPL. I guess I've been building things and cooking up adventures all my life. SIRTF is way up there in my list of adventures, certainly the most complex machine I've been involved in building, and will explore further into the universe than any other project so far. I've had several roles in SIRTF, first as Instruments and Telescope Manager, later as Deputy Project Manager, and always as general trouble-shooter and problem solver.

As a child I built model airplanes and dreamed of exploring the Mississippi River in my own boat. After growing up in Chicago and earning an M.S. in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University, I was on the B1 bomber design team at North American Aviation before joining JPL. Among other JPL projects, I've worked on the Viking Mars orbiters and the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), JPL's first infrared telescope.

Turning from space to a ground-based telescope, I was Project Engineer for the first Keck telescope, the largest optical telescope in the world. While working on Keck, I sailed our 36-foot sailboat from Los Angeles to Hawaii with my wife Kathi and son Will, a terrific seventeen-day adventure we're still talking about. (Ten years earlier, we'd sailed the same boat down the Intracoastal Waterway to the Bahamas, just before stints in the Netherlands and England for IRAS, assignments Kathi and Will enjoyed as much as I did. Obviously, three years in Hawaii for Keck was pretty nice for us, too.)

For the last several years, building SIRTF has occupied most of my time and energy, along with another construction project, building a two-seat, high performance aluminum airplane (an RV-6A). After almost six years (with help from Kathi and Will), I finished the plane and flew it for the first time in July, 2001. [Last summer, Kathi and I flew it to the airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, our first big flying adventure.]

Now we're looking forward to the great adventure of watching SIRTF fly off into solar orbit, to send back infrared images and spectra of objects invisible to earlier telescopes, expanding the understanding of our amazing universe and its earliest moments.

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