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ESA's short film, The Burn, takes us into the heart of Europe's mission control during a critical moment in the life of a future mission.
Filmed on site in Darmstadt, Germany, with the help of volunteers (many of which are real-life spacecraft controllers), The Burn illustrates the critical importance of decades of investment in state-of-the-art mission operations infrastructure and highly trained teams to flying Europe's most daring space missions.
Set - ESA - Mission - Control - Darmstadt
Set in 2029 at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, The Burn tells the story of a control team who seemingly lose a mission, as it fails to enter orbit around the Moon and drifts, rudderless, into deep space.
It all begins in the briefing room, as the team assembles to hear from the Spacecraft Operations Manager, or "SOM," about the task before them. Their goal is to slow the spacecraft down by performing a single thruster burn, allowing it to be "captured" by the Moon's gravity and enter into a lunar orbit.
Capture - Burn - Place - Spacecraft - Moon
Unfortunately, this capture burn will take place as the spacecraft is behind the Moon, as seen from Earth, and is therefore out of contact with the control team.
"On console in 10 minutes"
Team - Positions - Main - Control - Room
The team take their positions in the Main Control Room, to begin the burn. The SOM is in constant communication with her team via the "voice loop," as well as the flight dynamics experts in their dedicated room on-site, and ground station engineers at the New Norcia ground station in Western Australia.
The burn begins, and all goes to plan. As expected, the team lose contact with the spacecraft as it passes into the Moon's shadow. They eagerly await the return of the signal as the spacecraft comes out the other side, but they hear nothing.
Engineers - New - Norcia - Ground - Station
Engineers at the New Norcia ground station then report a signal coming and going, like a beacon....
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