How do you build a successful space mission? – Mark McCaughrean (Comet and 'Churymoon' © ESA/Rosetta/MPS/OSIRIS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA/J. Roger (CC BY-SA 4.0))

Mark McCaughrean: How do you launch a successful space mission?

When the European Space Agency launches a mission into space, Mark McCaughrean explains the hurdles they have to leap to finally get it off the ground.

Launching a rocket into space doesn’t come cheap. That much won’t surprise anybody, but what goes into the planning, construction and the science before the mission even gets off the ground? And when it’s up there, what does it do, and what makes it a success?


One man that knows how to put a space project together is Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency. During his 10 years at ESA, he’s worked on numerous projects, including the Rosetta mission to land a probe on a comet, and the enormous James Webb Space Telescope.

Ahead of his talk at ESA’s Space Rocks event on 21 September 2019, he talks to BBC Science Focus Online Editor Alexander McNamara about how to build a space project from start to finish, why studying space is so important for life on Earth, and reaching out through the power of rock music.

We now have more than 85 episodes of the Science Focus Podcast, each of which is still well worth a listen. Here are a few that you might find interesting: