ESA title
Back to Index French German Full story
Science & Exploration

N° 20–2003: ESA to sign contract with DLR for Columbus Control Centre

26 March 2003

On 31 March at Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Germany, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight Mr Jörg Feustel-Büechl will sign a EUR 37.7 m contract with DLR, the German national agency for aerospace research and spaceflight, to develop the Columbus Control Centre for the European Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS).


Columbus is a European science laboratory built to facilitate European research in space. It is the cornerstone of the European contribution to the ISS project and represents Europe as a key partner in the Space Station programme. ESA expects to launch the laboratory in October 2004.

The main functions of the Columbus Control Centre will be to command and control the Columbus laboratory systems, to provide and operate the European ground communications network for the facility, and to coordinate operations for the European payloads on board the International Space Station.

"The Columbus laboratory and the Columbus Control Centre are vital elements of the European participation in the International Space Station," said Mr. Feustel-Büechl, "the signature with DLR for the Columbus Control Centre demonstrates Europe’s commitment to the International Space Station programme".

Once the Columbus Control Centre is set up in Oberpfaffenhofen, on the premises of DLR's German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) and ready for operations in 2004, DLR will take responsibility under a further ESA contract for management of the centre and coordinate and support all on-orbit operations of the Columbus laboratory on behalf of ESA. The Columbus assembly mission, scheduled for October 2004, and the first period of Columbus operations will be managed by an Integrated Flight Control Team consisting of DLR, Astrium and ESA personnel led by an ESA Flight Director. For subsequent periods, DLR will lead the Columbus Laboratory Flight Control Team, with up to 90 operators. The team will act on ESA's behalf vis-à-vis NASA and other ISS partners for the execution of all Columbus operations.

The Columbus Control Centre has to be operational in time to provide ground communication services for the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Control Centre in Toulouse, France. The ATV is scheduled to be launched by Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2004 and is designed to resupply the ISS and carry out orbit reboost operations.

In placing this contract, ESA is recognising the long-standing experience and competence of DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen in the management of manned spaceflight operations. DLR has been involved in spacecraft operations for 35 years and in the management of manned spaceflight missions since the first European Spacelab mission in 1983. Since 1998 DLR specialists have contributed to the design and preparation of the Columbus Control Centre.

Media representatives wishing to attend the contract signature event at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen on 31 March at 11:00 (see programme attached) are kindly requested to complete the attached accreditation form and return it, preferably by fax, to ESA Media Relations Service in Paris (Fax: +33(0)

For further information on the Columbus Control Centre, please contact:

Robert Chesson

Head of the Operations Management Division

Directorate of Human Spaceflight

Tel: +31 71 656 3341

Fax: + 31 71 565 5431


ESA Columbus Control Centre Contract Signature

DLR/GSOC - Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich (Germany)

Monday 31 March 2003

10.15 - Doors open for check-in and refreshments

11.00 - Welcome address - Prof. Bernd Höfer, DLR

Role and importance of the Columbus Control Centre,the overall operations of the ISS - Jörg Feustel-Büechl, ESA

The Columbus Control Centre, the culmination of 35 years’ spaceflight operations control at GSOC - Prof. Achim Bachem, DLR

Signature of Contract

Columbus Control Centre operations - Robert Chesson, ESA

Design and implementation of the Columbus Control Centre - Prof. Klaus Wittman, DLR

Questions and Answers

12.00 - Opportunities for individual interviews - Buffet lunch

Place: DLR/GSOC Oberpfaffenhofen, near MunichMotorway A 96, Munich-Lindau, Exit: Oberpfaffenhofen, then follow the signs to DLR.

You can download a map from: http//

Telephone during the event :DLR Public Relations

Tel: +49(0)8153.28.2297


ESA Columbus Control Centre Contract Signature

DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich (Germany)

Monday 31 March 2003, 11h00

First Name :_________________ Surname :___________________

Media : ___________________________________________________

Address : _________________________________________________



Tel: ______________________Fax:___________________________

Mobile :____________________E-mail :_______________________

[ ] I will participate

[ ] I will not participate

Please return by fax :

ESA, Media Relations Service



For further information:

ESA Media Relations Service

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)