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Rockets launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, are tracked by antennas across the globe, including three from ESA’s Estrack network.
ESA’s 15-metre antenna in Kourou mainly tracks satellites, but is also used to receive engineering data during selected rocket launches.
The 4.5 and 35 metre antennas in New Norcia, Australia, track rockets delivering their spacecraft into polar, low-Earth, geostationary, lunar and interplanetary orbits, as well as unusual missions such as the Galileo constellation of navigation satellites.
The 5.5-metre antenna on Santa Maria island in the Azores archipelago, Portugal, was originally built to track launches of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), but now tracks Galileo launches.
Rockets are the backbone of all space-based endeavours. ESA in partnership with industry is developing next-generation space transportation vehicles, Ariane 6, Vega-C, and Space Rider. At Space19+, ESA will propose further enhancements to these programmes and introduce new ideas to help Europe work together to build a robust space transportation economy. This week, take a look at what ESA is doing to ensure continued autonomous access to space for Europe and join the conversation online by following the hashtag #RocketWeek