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ESA Masterclass full series: Leadership at Mission Control

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23/10/2020
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The ESA Masterclass collection brings main figures within the Company to the fore, from the slicing fringe of house exploration. Be part of them as they share their journey, together with a long time of expertise, information and classes learnt throughout their eventful careers in house.

Within the first of the Masterclass collection, we head to Darmstadt, Germany, the place epoch-making robotic house exploration missions have been flown underneath the watchful eye of 1 man, Paolo Ferri. 

Introducing Paolo Ferri

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on leadership at Mission Control

With 36 years’ expertise on the European Area Company, Paolo Ferri was till September this 12 months liable for mission operations at ESA’s ESOC Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Paolo has performed a number one function in guaranteeing the success of bold missions like Eureca, Cluster, Venus Express and the epoch-making Rosetta – humanity’s first touchdown on a comet.

In 5 episodes of ‘Management at Mission Control’, Paolo takes us by way of the most important occasions in his profession, overlaying cornerstone missions, first makes an attempt, overcoming technical challenges, constructing various groups and fixing the surprising issues that come up with even the best-planned missions.

Paolo on considering outdoors the field

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on considering outdoors the field

As soon as a spacecraft is launched to house, that’s it. Hundreds or hundreds of thousands of kilometres away, there might be no handbook fixes, on-the-fly upgrades or last-minute modifications. It is now as much as groups at Mission Management to make use of the instruments and applied sciences at their disposal, in addition to their very own information, teamwork and creativity to beat the inevitable issues confronted by any mission in house.

In ‘Pondering Outdoors the Field,” Paolo describes three missions that suffered surprising and probably deadly flaws: Sensible-1, Cluster and Exosat, and the way on-the-ground information, innovation and ingenuity prevented their premature demise, permitting the science to go on.

On communication and teamwork

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on communication and teamwork

All through the life of each mission, radio indicators are transmitted between stations on floor and the spacecraft orbiting Earth, or voyaging throughout the Photo voltaic System. These indicators include directions and instructions despatched up from Mission Management, and beam down knowledge corresponding to views of our planet collected by high-tech devices on board.

Nonetheless, this ‘dialog’ between house and Earth is simply nearly as good because the conversations happening on Earth, the place efficient communication and teamwork are basic. Successfully passing on info, expertise and challenges are the important thing to success throughout crucial operations, as groups evolve over the lifetime of decades-long missions, and between totally different mission groups themselves.

In his second masterclass, Paolo Ferri illustrates the significance of efficient communication with the assistance of Exosat, a flipchart and a ‘blind’ spacecraft, Venus Categorical.

On management, teaching, studying

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on management, teaching, studying

As house missions have turn into extra advanced, the teamwork wanted on the bottom has additionally turn into extra subtle and difficult. Over nearly 4 a long time on the forefront of Europe’s voyages in house, Paolo Ferri went from Operations Engineer on the Eureca mission to Operations Supervisor of the four-spacecraft Cluster mission after which the Rosetta mission, adopted by serving as Flight Director on Rosetta, Venus Categorical and Goce. His profession has been capped off by eight years as Head of Mission Operations for the Company, overseeing all of ESA’s robotic mission operations.

In his third masterclass, Paolo shares what he has learnt going from an engineering professional with full and particular information of a single mission, to being accountable at a senior supervisor stage for the success of dozens of missions operated by worldwide groups every as various, distinctive and sophisticated because the spacecraft they fly.

On working underneath strain

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on working underneath strain

Understanding the legal guidelines of the Universe is prime to flying missions in house. However one spacecraft underneath Paolo Ferri’s care appeared to be notably inclined to Murphy’s legislation – ‘Something that may go improper, will go improper.’

In 1992, ESA’s first-ever reusable satellite tv for pc, Eureca, was delivered into orbit (and later retrieved) by a NASA Area Shuttle. It spent just below a 12 months in orbit, and introduced a plethora of issues from Day 1. Whereas it was finally profitable, Eureca required fixed care from engineering groups on floor in addition to hands-on assist from astronauts in orbit.

As Deputy Operations Supervisor for the mission, Paolo Ferri explains in his fourth masterclass how this intense interval acted as a ‘college’ for him, as he and his group had been put underneath immense strain by this orbiting ‘field of surprises’ continually on the sting of disaster and mission failure.

On the tradition at Mission Management

ESA Masterclass: Paolo Ferri on the tradition at mission management

Step contained in the Principal Management Room at ESOC, ESA’s European Area Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, and one factor turns into instantly clear: groups that function house missions are extremely hierarchical, and the Flight Director is indisputably in cost.

How does this work, and why is that this the case? Within the final of his Masterclass collection, Paolo Ferri delves into the tradition of operations, from written guidelines and procedures to equally essential unwritten ideas that information the day-to-day working lives of these flying Europe’s spacecraft.

Paolo explains that on uncommon events, an inner battle takes place when protocols, procedures and flight guidelines do not appear as much as the duty, and somebody should assume the massive accountability of deciding whether or not or not they must be violated to maintain a mission functioning.


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