Sat in a windowless office beneath ESA’s Main Control Room in Darmstadt, Germany, two Simulations Officers have complete control over the Juice spacecraft and ESA’s deep space ground stations across the globe – and they take full advantage.

These aren’t the real 35-metre antennas or the actual spacecraft (currently in Kourou, French Guiana), but a complex simulator. For teams that will fly the mission for real, it all looks, feels and behaves just like the real thing. The ‘problem’ for them is, it keeps going wrong. 

Down in the simulations bunker, the Officers are revelling in their dastardly plan as it comes into fruition. All around them are screens showing the scenes in the room above. They can see the worried teams; they can hear their conversations and they even see what they are doing on each of their console screens. 

For months, engineers have been flying a fake spacecraft that keeps going wrong. In just a couple of weeks, they fly the real thing.

These simulations will help to ensure the mission is a success.

ESA – European Space Agency

Closed captions available Captions and subtitles are available (automatically generated by YouTube) – select your language using the YouTube player controls. A non-YouTube version is available using the ‘download