Engineers and scientists at ESOC spend considerable time selecting orbits, developing procedures and building the ground segment infrastructure that supports a satellite in flight.
In the months prior to a launch, a 'team of teams' conducts intense training and simulations to be ready for any contingency. After lift-off, the satellite separates from its booster, and ESOC mission controllers assume command. During LEOP - the critical launch and early orbit phase - the operation of solar arrays and other on-board systems must be fully confirmed, followed by the check-out and switch-on of scientific payloads. Satellites travel to low-Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and deep into interplanetary space, orbiting the Sun, Mars and other celestial bodies. ESOC controls the Agency's ESTRACK network, a global system of tracking stations that transmit commands and receive valuable scientific data. ESOC is also responsible for tracking space debris, a growing threat to commercial and scientific exploitation of near-Earth orbits, and for developing new techniques and tools for mission operations.