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Space navigators at work

Where we work and what we do

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At ESOC, teams work together in a number of specialised control rooms, all designed to foster teamwork and effective technical management of a mission. These control rooms provide the crucial data links between ground controllers and their satellites in orbit.

Building ground segments

We work as a single team to plan, build and manage ground segments for ESA missions, and then we operate spacecraft from our control rooms using a sophisticated and standardised array of mission control hardware and software. 

Venus Express Support Room
Venus Express Support Room

Our technical facilities – the places where we do what we do – include ESOC’s large, general-purpose Main Control Room (MCR), multiple Dedicated Control Rooms (DCR – smaller control rooms dedicated to specific missions or mission families) and the Network Operations Centre, which controls our tracking station network.

ESOC provides rooms and facilities for flight dynamics, network management, software support, simulations and training and other specialised functions.

The Centre also hosts facilities for conducting research or providing services in areas of expertise related to spacecraft operations. These include:

  • ESA Navigation Facility – providing products and services related to global navigation satellite systems
  • Ground Segment Reference Facility – developing and testing the new technologies required for next-generation ground systems
  • Space Debris Office – coordinating ESA's research activities on space debris and providing operational services
  • Space safety and security – developing technology that will protect Europe’s investment in space


Access an image gallery showcasing the specialised facilities at ESOC

Signal received from Rosetta
Signal received from Rosetta

Our control rooms and engineering facilities are perhaps the most eye-catching indication of what goes on at ESOC. And they can certainly be the scene of drama at moments when spacecraft are launched or a satellite enters orbit around an alien world. But they are just the means to an end.

The essence of what happens at ESOC occurs in the human realm: building teams, training engineers, developing technical mangers and working with partner agencies and organisations around the world.

Our operations and engineering teams comprise men and women from almost every ESA Member State plus a dozen other regions and countries, working together to achieve not only the dream of space travel but also practical scientific results and services that benefit citizens in daily life.

Coordinating European space operations technology development

ESOC has a mandate to foster new technologies and stay at the forefront of research and technology in the ground segment and operations domains. Not only does this support European industrial competitiveness, it also paves the way for future missions and develops infrastructure that can be shared with all parties involved in space activities in Europe.

Future industrial collaboration will build on current ESA efforts, which include: supporting European industry in commercialising ESA-developed ground segment software and products; collaborative development for the next-generation European Ground System – Common Core mission control software; promoting the transfer of ESA ground segment and operations technology for use in non-space sectors; helping start-up companies create and commercialise new downstream applications using technology and data stemming from space programmes, like Global Navigation Satellite Systems. 

More information on European Ground System – Common Core (EGS-CC)

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