Editor’s note: Today’s post was sent in by Armelle Hubault, a Spacecraft Operations Engineer here at ESOC. Armelle worked on the Rosetta Flight Control Team until the mission ended on 30 September, and she is now part of the Cluster team. As background, note that at ESA, spacecraft are operated by a team comprising an experienced Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) and a Flight Control Team, who typically comprise from six to as many as fifteen experienced system engineers, analysts and other experts (depending on the complexity of the spacecraft and the mission – for more details, see Building a team).
One of the responsibilities of the engineers on any mission’s Flight Control Team is to monitor the spacecraft and react immediately in case of trouble.
The Rosetta phone Credit: ESA
There are two levels of support for this:
The Spacecraft Controllers (‘Spacons’), who sit in the dedicated control room on shift and perform routine spacecraft control actions (monitor ground station passes, upload commands, etc.) as well as a undertake some contingency recovery activities
The Spacecraft Operation Engineers (SOEs), who take turns being ‘on-call’ and who can be called by the Spacon in case an anomaly must be further investigated or ...