5-Minutes with… Berti Meisinger, ESA Mission Director
Berti Meisinger (ESA Mission Director) is Astronaut Tim Peake’s Mission Director and his main point of contact on Earth. We asked Berti to tell us about her job and give some advice to young space enthusiasts.
What is your job – can you describe a typical day in your work life?
In the morning, I go to the control room to check with the Flight Control Team that the Columbus module (the European part of the International Space Station) is in good shape, the activities to be performed by the astronauts in the next few days have been properly coordinated, and all necessary changes have been included in the schedule. After this, I have a coordination meeting with the European control centres and engineering teams on all the activities which have to be prepared to support the on-board operations. Twice a week I report the status of the European experiments, or any Columbus system maintenance activities, to NASA and the other ISS international partners, and negotiate additional resources (e.g. power), if they are not already in the plan.
How did you get into space science?
I started as an IT specialist at the German Space Operations Centre, developing computer programs to process satellite data. In this environment I learned more and more about the space business and was able to work in different positions, from control centre computer system development, to space shuttle payload commanding.
What interests did you have as a child?
I very much liked mathematics, sports (biking, handball, hiking, ice skating), playing the guitar, and singing in a choir.
If you weren’t a Mission Director, what would you be?
I would be a geologist, analysing earth observation satellite data.
How will you celebrate Tim Peake’s launch into space?
I will get together with my control centre colleagues, and we will drink a toast to a successful mission with a glass of sparkling wine.
What advice would you give your eight-year-old self about building a career in space science?
Do what has to be done with enthusiasm and always be positive, even if the tasks are challenging.
Berti makes a cameo appearance in Chapter Two of the Principia Mission Space Diary. Log in or sign up to the Principia Mission Space Diary website to download your own copy of the Space Diary along with teaching notes and resources.
The Principia Mission Space Diary is one of nine education projects funded by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, to support the education aims of Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station. Find out more about the Principia education projects here.