Dr. Angelita Castro-Kelly, the first woman to become NASA's Mission Operations Manager, passed on June 7, 2015 of Lupus complications at the age of 73.
Born in Isabela in 1942, she was the youngest of the six children of pharmacist Eufemia Albano and Dr. Miguel Castro.
According to Illustrado magazine, she grew up in Sampaloc, Manila, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Santo Tomas. She later finished her master's degree in Physics at the University of Maryland.
She became the Mission Operations Manager for the Earth Observing System (EOS) project in 1990, where she developed “overall mission operations concepts, working with various spacecrafts and ground system developers to ensure the implementation of mission requirements,” The Varsitarian said.
Known at NASA by her nickname “MOM” (Mission Operations Manager), she said in the Great Ilocanos interview, “I’m the first woman MOM, so I cracked the glass ceiling. Before me, all the MOMs were men.”
Castro-Kelly reaped numerous awards in her career, including the 2007 Most Influential Award by the Filipina Women's Network, the 2007 NASA Honor Award and Exceptional Achievement Medal, the 2006 Goddard Space Flight Center Exceptional Service Award, the Manned Flight Program Launch Honoree Award, the Goddard Space Flight Center Exceptional Performance Award, and the unique Astronauts’ Manned Flight “Snoopy” award.
Former President Fidel Ramos presented her the 1993 Presidential Award “Pamana ng Bayan” for science and technology, and UST gave her the 1993 Alumni Award, also for science and technology.
Her advice to others who wanted to follow in her footsteps: “Get a good education. Do not forget your values no matter where you go. Treat people fairly,”
She is survived by her husband and her children: Maria Angelita Kelly Hrabinski (husband Vince); Francis Joseph C. Kelly (wife Holly); John Michael C. Kelly (wife Karen); grandchildren: Katrina, Timothy, Sophia and Regina Hrabinski; Christopher Kelly; Kaitlyn, Andrew, Caroline, Nicholas and Cassandra Kelly. Brothers and sisters: Dr. Miguel A. Castro, Jr. (wife Irene); Joselito A. Castro (wife Lucia); Milagros C. Morelos (husband Dr. Jose); and Erlinda C. Jacobo (husband Proceso); and many nephews, nieces, relatives and friends in the US and in the Philippines.