Marius:University of Stuttgart until 2012, QUT Brisbane in 2011, IUBH since 2013. Joao: IST, in Lisbon, Portugal, UPC in Barcelona, Spain and UVIC in Victoria, Canada. Dan: College of the Holy Cross, 1980-1984. Tom: University of Regensburg in Germany, guess what subject? Maths and Physics…Ivano: Politecnico di Torino, ISAE Toulouse and Universitaet Bremen Katie: High school in Glasgow, then the University of St Andrews for a BSc. (Physics). Then the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands for an MSc. (Aerospace Engineering)
Marius: Dipl.-Ing. & (almost done) M.B.A. Joao: MSc. Dan: B.Sc. Physics, B.Sc. Meteorology Tom: Diploma and PhD in Physics Ivano: MSc. in Telecommunications Engineering and Post-grad Master in Space Exploration Katie: BSc. and MSc.
Marius: Airport Stuttgart as student & internships at Airbus, afterwards DLR. Joao: DLR and OHB. Dan: Meteorologist, US Air Force, 1984-1989, DLR since 1989. Tom: Scientist at the Argonne National Lab near Chicago, afterwards DLR (the “German NASA”, if you like…;-)) Ivano: Amadeus (most probably I wrote some parts of the programs that managed your last airline reservation) and DLR Katie: OHB and DLR.
Marius: Columbus Flight Director. Joao: STRATOS. Dan: Ground Operations Engineer. Tom: Currently doing my last shifts as Columbus Flight Director, then taking over “our” geostationary satellite group… Ivano: Flight Director Katie: STRATOS (in training!)
Dan: DLR/INSYEN AG.
Ivano: DLR/LSE Space GmbH.
Katie: Telespazio VEGA Deutschland
If you’ve ever seen Apollo 13, and remember all the people on the ground, talking into headsets, staring at telemetry, and fixing problems… Well, that’s our job!
We’re the Columbus Operations team, made up of Flight Directors, Flight and Ground Controllers – representing the operations experts on the ground ready to support Tim in all his ESA activities.
We have overall responsibility for the operations of Columbus Module, the European Space Laboratory joined to the International Space Station and we coordinate all the astronauts activities in it. Tim is performing a lot of scientific experiments inside Columbus, we are the team supporting him every day, coordinating all his activities so that they are successful and making sure that he is always safe.
Because we will be pretty busy preparing and executing Tim’s Mission, we decided to split our support between 6 of us:
– Simon Challis (UK), Tom Uhlig (Germany), Marius Bach (Germany) & Ivano Verzola (Italy) are Columbus Flight Directors (COL FLIGHT)
– Kathryn Dunlop (UK) & Joao Lousada (Portugal) are Columbus Flight Controllers (STRATOS)
– Dan Burdulis (US) is a Columbus Control Centre Ground Controller (GSOC GC). Without me none of the others can do their work 🙂 Of course, without them, I’d have no work to do!
Here’s Joao on one of our consoles. Plenty of screens are needed to see if everything is ok onboard!
My Typical Day
Shift work: Mornings, Afternoons, Nights, Weekends, talking to astronauts on the ISS from time to time… Arriving at work without knowing when you will leave. Meetings, meetings and meetings with different teams spread all over Europe and the US.
One of the exciting things about this job is that you thouroughly plan what you will do today and then you arrive at work, stay there sometimes even 12 hours and then you leave having done nothing about what you had planned to do, because unexpected things happen and you need to react immediately and fix them.
Here is a clip from the Apollo 13 movie that we think shows quite well how a day at work can turn out to be:
What I'd do with the prize money
We would use the money to help the winning class visit a real space operations centre in the UK.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Simon: Curious, Motivated, Thorough. Joao: Easy-going, Fun, Passionate. Dan: Stickler for detail. Tom: Optimistic, Logic rules!, Passionate Ivano: Optimistic, Curious, Resolute Katie: Enthusiastic, practical, open-minded
What was your favourite subject at school?
Marius: Experiments in Physics. Joao: Maths. Dan: Physics Tom: See Joao’s and Dan’s answer… Ivano: Mathematics Katie: Physics and German
What did you want to be after you left school?
Marius: Pilot. Joao: An Astronaut. Dan: Pilot. Tom: Teacher… but as child of course: Astronaut (well, and Fire Fighter, Priest, Knight,…;-)) Ivano: an Engineer improving the world Katie: I wasn’t 100% sure – an engineer, aerospace lawyer, or a writer
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Marius: Not really, didn’t talk much either. Joao: Once playing football someone shot the ball to the top of the roof. I got into some trouble when I climbed to get it. Dan: Yes, and you didn’t want to be in trouble at a Catholic school! Tom: Once we “hacked” the teacher’s computer… Ivano: Maybe some times… ;) Katie: Not really!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Marius: Crossing the Alps with bike. Joao: Jumping out of a flying airplane. Dan: Scuba diving in the Caribbean. Tom: So many things come to my mind now – I am not decided…;-) Ivano: A road trip in Australia and New Zealand Katie: Travelling! I’ve been lucky to be able to travel a lot in the last few years – hiking through deserts, experiencing midnight sun in the arctic circle, getting lost in Asian megacities…there’s nothing more fun than exploring somewhere totally foreign and experiencing a new culture!