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Dear ÖWF Community!
I report to you in “live transmission mode” from the tropical beaches of French Guyana in South America, from where, just a few hours ago, a VEGA launcher delivered the new ESA science mission “Lisa Pathfinder” into space. I have the privilege to be here for this unique launch campaign as the IT manager for the ESA Science Directorate, the “client” for the rocket launch. It is my first launch campaign in Kourou, Europe’s space port. As you can imagine, it’s a truly amazing experience.
The night of the launch among people full of professionalism and excitement is something impressive. Tension raises already hours before the scheduled moment of lift-off (which, for our “baby”, was 01:04:00 local at night, or five in the morning CET). About one hour before the launch, the team accesses the “Jupiter” building with the main control room. Parameters are watched from various locations.
The launch safety officers are even completely separated from the rest of the team to allow them full concentration and undisturbed decisions in an emergency case. At all times, our eyes go to the screen: still all on “green”? Then, one minute before lift-off, I have the privilege to go on the terrace; humid air outside, darkness and low-hanging clouds. Then we hear the “décompte final”, the countdown. A bright flash about 5km away and off goes VEGA on her ride. We feel her vibrations for quite a while, although she is already down-range and out of sight. We enter the building while the Brazilian Natal station has taken over signal contact. After the upper stage engine shut-down, we leave to the late-night beach party, of course!
As one of the OeWF Science Data Officers, I am reminded at many occasions of our work in the OeWF, in particular our Mars mission simulations. MSC (Mission Support Center) atmosphere is all around! Being able to make a direct comparison, I appreciate how professional our own routines have become, in particular for AMADEE-15. “Lisa Pathfinder” is now on its way to its final orbital position. From there, it will test precursor technologies for detecting gravitational waves – postulated by Einstein pretty much 100 years ago in his theory of general relativity. For me, things are a bit more down to Earth: dismantling the special IT infrastructure, closing campaign business, catching a long night flight home.nehmen.
This article is available in: German
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