A super-nice note and team photo sent in by the Mars Express flight control team at ESOC! This was written by Luke Lucas, on behalf of the team who fly ESA’s venerable Mars mission – now looking forward to a new buddy in orbit!

Mars Express has been orbiting Mars for just over 12 years, and soon will be joined by another ESA explorer. The excitement is building here at ESOC as the final preparations for the ExoMars launch are made.

MEX Flight Control Team at ESOC Credit: ESA

MEX Flight Control Team at ESOC Credit: ESA

Recently, teams from industry, the science community and ESTEC have been arriving; and here at ESOC, the simulation campaign is drawing to a close. The simulation campaign involves the flight control team (FCT), practising and practising the launch and other mission phases using a spacecraft simulator (computer program). The ExoMars team will have practised nominal and contingency operations, ensuring that procedures are ready and – most critically – that the FCT are as prepared as possible to successfully operate the spacecraft.

The ExoMars dress rehearsal is set for tomorrow; then, the next time the team are in the Main Control Room it will be for actual launch and real telemetry from the very real spacecraft, not a simulator…

Any launch is a mixture of high pressure and great excitement. An unforgettable occasion!

We wish the ExoMars team all the best and look forward to greeting a fellow explorer at Mars.

Kind regards

– Luke & Mars Express