Meet the team behind iriss: Columbus Flight Director

Columbus Flight Director. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

Columbus Flight Director. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

Many people support a mission in space. We invite you to meet the teams that are keeping Andreas Mogensen and the International Space Station safe and running experiments, in their own words:

What is your team name?
COL-FD

What does your team name stand for?
Columbus Flight Director

Katja and Sergio: Flight Directors. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

Katja and Sergio: Flight Directors. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

What do you do?
We have the overall authority and responsibility of Columbus systems and experiments operations, its safety and anomaly troubleshooting.

What does your work typical day look like?
Performing science in a space laboratory like Columbus involves operators at the Columbus Control Centre in Munich,  at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and in several other control centres spread all over Europe, where the specialists for the various experiments are.
Our job is to coordinate all these highly skilled engineers and scientists so that they can work together in an organized way and this results in smooth and successful operations.

How is working for iriss?
It’s extremely challenging and exciting at the same time. The iriss mission is the first time ever we have astronauts doing experiments in Columbus for the whole day, every day for more than a week in a row. To achieve that, we had to learn to do many things that are normally done by NASA, such as taking decisions in time-critical situations and prioritising experiments.

Katja and Sergio: Flight Directors. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

Katja and Sergio: Flight Directors. Credits: ESA–J. Harrod CC BY SA IGO 3.0

What is the best part of your job?
At the end of the day, sitting back and thinking about all the experiments that have been performed and how their results can improve the life of all of us in the future. And then realize to have been part of it!

Anything else?
Here’s one interesting fact (dreamt over night):
Among other tasks, we are also the Eurocom backup for talking to the crew. Since Eurocom does not work outside the normal office hours, we sometimes talk to astronauts using the space-to-ground communication. Talking to someone orbiting the Earth at 28 000 km/h hour puts some additional spice onto already exciting days!

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