Naturally the branch head asked me to manage the pre-launch efforts to ensure our science pipeline would be ready on time and able to produce scientific results from day one.
I found the situation extremely amusing. There I was, a newcomer to the group and a lowly post-doc to boot, assigning tasks to senior scientists, shifting people to must-do items, and chiding them for missing deadlines. And you know what? Everyone was fine with that.
This is one aspect I love about science. Most people just want the job done and for the mission to succeed, and issues like pedigree and job title are not nearly as crucial as a willingness to step in and do work. If you are competent and reasonable, you can lead a small team.
Frankly, if you're foolish enough to take up the hassles of managing, others will happily cede that so they can get back to what they consider 'real work'-- science. The career downside was that helping prep for launch meant no science or papers, and not even a formal title to add to my CV.
Who would ever believe a new post-doc was actually in charge of the entire 'software roadmap' for the SECCHI instrument onboard STEREO? But I'll always know and remember 'my satellite'.
Alex, the daytime astronomer