What does it take to 'fly' a satellite?

The Main Control Room at ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
ESOC Main Control Room
17 September 2012

Since its creation in 1967, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, has planned missions, operated more than 60 satellites and ensured that spacecraft meet their mission objectives.

The mandate of ESOC, one of ESA's six space competence centres, is to conduct mission operations for ESA satellites and to establish, operate and maintain the necessary ground segment infrastructure.

ESOC's infrastructure consists of laboratories, environmental test facilities, ground stations, operational control centres, communication networks, information systems, information technology infrastructure as well as buildings and associated facilities. If you want to get to know the people who work at Europes Gateway to space and learn more about their professional backgrounds, click on the videos below.

The Mission Control System

Without sophisticated software, it would be impossible to operate a modern space mission. ESA's mission operations software experts design and develop software systems used in ground segments to carry out satellite control, mission planning, simulations, training and ground station control and management.


The Operational Simulator

An operational simulator is a set of software modules and applications, aiming at the generation of a realistic environment where operations of a spacecraft model are simulated. The simulator is used to support testing of the Control Centre software during development, final simulation campaign prior to launch, training of the flight control team and for validating nominal and contingency flight control procedures.

The ESA tracking station network

ESTRACK, the ESA tracking station network, is a worldwide system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and our Operations Control Centre at ESOC. The core ESTRACK network is comprised of ten stations (one under construction) in seven countries.

If you would like to find out more about the current missions operated from ESOC go to www.esa.int/esoc.

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