On 26 May 2014, German Federal President Joachim Gauck made the first-ever visit by a Head of State to ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
President Gauck was joined by 140 ambassadors and Tarek Al-Wazir, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Hesse region, for a guided visit through the centre’s mission control facilities. The visitors were welcomed by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and by Thomas Reiter, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations and Head of the European Space Operations Centre, ESOC.
All guests were briefed by Director Reiter on the current high pace of Agency activities, including astronaut Alexander Gerst’s ‘Blue Dot’ scientific mission to the International Space Station and the operations of exploration and Earth monitoring satellites. The briefing highlighted Rosetta, which is operated from ESOC and due to arrive at its comet destination in August, 404 million km from Earth.
President Gauck was guided on a tour of the mission control facilities, from which 15 spacecraft are currently operated, with more than 20 new missions under preparation. He had an opportunity to view live signals from Europe’s comet chaser, Rosetta, and he spoke in a video call with Alexander Gerst, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome preparing to lift off on Wednesday for six-months on the Space Station.
ESA's Mike Rast also presented highlights of recent Earth observation missions, providing specific examples of how spaceflight benefits European industry and citizens.
This video is a live recording and some portions are in English and some in German.