The Belgian User Support and Operation Centre (B.USOC) is situated on the new third floor of the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB). The centre provides technical support for users and experiments on board the International Space Station (ISS). B.USOC which plays a key role during the Odissea mission has three major tasks:
1. It gives the most complete information about the possibilities of space research to scientists, about the flight possibilities of experiments and about the availability of equipment for planned missions. The information is available in a database, which is accessible through a web server.
2. B.USOC provides technical and operational support for the experiments financed by the Belgian Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC) through the ESA programme Prodex. This support covers all possible disciplines of space research including microgravity research, remote sensing and technology. B.USOC is an interface with the industrial partners, developing scientific equipment, and with the scientists when elaborating technical dossiers. It also helps with the development and verification of qualification tests. B.USOC is a point of contact with ESA’s research and technology centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk (The Netherlands) for the technical follow-up of certain experiments.
3. B.USOC coordinates the telescience operations during the preparation of space missions and during experiments in Earth orbit. Several research laboratories, like the Microgravity Research Centre (MRC), are well equipped for operations of kind, which are supported and controlled by B.USOC. B.USOC participates in the development of telecommands and in saving, processing and relaying of data.
During the Odissea mission B.USOC is operational 24 hours a day. There are four workstations available for Belgian investigators. There is a permanent link between B.USOC and the Taxi-flight Operations Coordination Centre (TOCC) in ESTEC, the Russian flight control centre TSUP in Korolyov near Moscow, the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt (Germany) and with the NASA centres in Houston (Texas) and Huntsville (Alabama).