Villafranca station is located at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC)

Villafranca station

The ESTRACK tracking antennas located at ESA/ESAC currently support ESA's Cluster, Integral, XMM-Newton, Envisat and ERS-2 missions, as well as ATV and the International Space Station.

Location

The coordinates of the VIL-2 15-metre antenna are +40° 26' 33.23", -03° 57' 05.70". The antenna is sited at an elevation of 664.80 metres with respect to the WGS-84 reference ellipsoid, a mathematically-defined reference surface that approximates the Earth's geoid surface.

ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) lies in the Guadarrama Valley, 30 kilometres west of Madrid, Spain, in an area of evergreen oaks and poplars, surrounded by antennas and a castle dating from the 15th century.

Facilities & technology

Villafranca hosts the following antennas:
  • VIL-1: 15m-diameter dish antenna with reception and transmission in S-band and including an autotrack capability, a ranging system, a frequency and timing system, a monitoring and control system, and a communications system.
    Note: The VIL-1 antenna is currently mothballed and waiting to be used as part of the Cooperation for Education in Science and Astronomy Research (CESAR) programme - an outreach programme providing hands-on experience in radio astronomy and space science to students at European universities.
  • VIL-2: 15m-diameter dish antenna with reception and transmission in S-band and including an autotrack capability, a ranging system, a frequency and timing system, a monitoring and control system, and a communications system
Both terminals provide facilities for tracking, telemetry, telecommand and radiometric measurements (ranging, Doppler, meteo).
Aerial view of ESAC

The station has a frequency and timing system, a monitoring and control system and communications are enabled via the ESA Operations Network (OPSNET). The site is equipped with a no-break power plant.

The station is operated remotely from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, and has been responsible for providing telemetry, tracking and command support to ESA as well as non-ESA satellites.

Villafranca station has supported numerous ESA satellites, including: the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), Marecs, the first- and second- generation Meteosats, Hipparcos, ERS-1 and 2, the Infared Space Observatory (ISO) and SMART-1 - ESA's mission to the Moon.

XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre (SOC) at ESAC

In addition to hosting Villafranca station, the ESAC establishment hosts a number of important ESA activities, including the Science Operations Centres (SOC) for XMM Newton, Integral, Herschel and Gaia, and the Spanish Laboratory for Space Astrophysics and Fundamental Physics (LAEFF).

Access & contact

The ESOC point of contact is:
Head of Ground Facilities Operations Div. (OPS-ON)
ESOC, Darmstadt
Tel: +49-6151-90-0

The local station contact is:
ESA Cebreros & Villafranca TT&C Stations Manager
Mr Lionel Hernandez
lionel.hernandez [@] esa.int
Tel +34-91-896-38-45
Fax +34-91-896-38-46

The postal address of the station is:
European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC)
Camino bajo del Castillo, s/n
Urbanizacion Villafranca del Castillo
Villanueva de la Cañada
28692 Madrid, Spain

ESAC switchboard: +34-918-131-100(3)

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