The Burn


ESA’s flight controllers use the best software and systems to fly our missions — but do they have the cool savvy needed to handle a wonky engine and a time-critical manoeuvre?

Set in the near future, ‘The Burn’ is a new short film that tells the story of what happens when an ESA mission control team encounters an unexpected anomaly in what should be a routine manoeuvre.

The Operations Manager, spacecraft engineers, flight dynamics experts and software and systems specialists all ‘work the problem’, fighting against time, the inexorable pull of gravity and a capricious Solar System to avoid loss of mission.

Fundamentally, without constantly evolving mission operations infrastructure – ground stations across the globe, flight dynamics systems, high-tech control rooms and cutting edge control systems – we could not fly the complex missions we have successfully flown now for decades.

Sometimes, you have to fail to succeed. Throughout the year, teams train for every possible eventuality, to ensure that their skills, expertise and teamwork – in combination with the best mission control systems available – bring Europe’s missions to life.

Many of the actors appearing in ‘The Burn’ are the actual engineers currently flying missions at ESA, giving an authentic glimpse into the real-time experiences of the teams who fly European exploration spacecraft today.

Update: SELECTED Australia Science Week Film Festival 2020:

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