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Developing a mission

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The project team prepares the mission and system specifications, evaluates the industrial proposals and manages the development contracts for work carried out by European industry and research institutes. The combination of engineering and scientific skills in these teams is a major asset for European competitiveness, and a guarantee for the success of the project.

Don McCoy is project manager for ESA’s ExoMars project. He has worked on the Hubble Space Telescope, Huygens, Mars Express and Venus Express. “The launch is the defining moment between preparing for a mission and implementing the mission, but a project manager’s role before that is to prepare all elements of the system for this moment so that the mission will run smoothly after launch.

"During the spacecraft development there is always the question of whether the design meets the objectives of the mission. As we work through the development of the spacecraft, the design is checked through formal reviews in what ESA calls Mission and System Reviews. These are major milestones in the lifecycle of any space development.”

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