About 10 years back now I was a system administrator - slash - network engineer at the +ESA site in Noordwijk. I maintained their engineering compute resources (and printers, sadly) for two years and walked every day from the parking lot, through the test center, to my desk that looked out on the dunes.
For several months, there was a smallish car-sized cube of metal and electronics sitting in this test facility. Safely behind thick glass and in a dust free environment, of course. I could see the local engineers daily poke at it and subject it to the Large Space Simulator.
Today, this little cube is now in orbit around a grey deformed lump of icy rubble that looks like a rubber ducky. It is flying 6bln km from Earth, and doing 55000km/hr. Yes, that was the Rosetta spacecraft.
On Tuesday, March 2nd in 2004, I sat in the ESTEC launch center together with maybe a hundred colleagues including the two Dutch astronauts Wubbo Ockels and Andre Kuipers, and my
girlfriend and now wife, +Stacey Serafin
. And there we watched this modest cube remove itself from earth's gravity influence at the top of an Ariane 5 rocket.
I'm incredibly proud to have been part for 2 years of the department of about 100 engineers that worked on the thermal modelling and orbit calculations, rockets and help them do their work.
Some days I wonder why I left that job to move to the US. Not too long, obviously ;)http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v158/status.html #tbthursday