Without sophisticated software, it would be impossible to operate a modern space mission. ESA's mission operations software experts design and develop software systems used in ground segments to carry out satellite control, mission planning, simulations, training and ground station control and management.
We design, develop and maintain some of Europe’s best mission operations and control system software, including SCOS-2000, SIMSAT and many other platforms and tools.
In addition to powering dozens of ESA and partner agency missions, ESA's ground segment applications are being shared with European industry under innovative, royalty-free licensing schemes. In recent years, software, data systems and tools originally developed by ESA for controlling missions in orbit have enjoyed increasing adoption by other industries, including airlines, telecom operators and other government agencies.
We work with partner agencies, private industry and international organisations to advance the state of European space technology, helping boost industrial competitiveness. In cooperation with NASA, European space agencies and international partners, we support technical standardisation in several areas, fostering agency interoperability and helping reduce costs for the entire space community.
Our experts work in two functional areas: Data Systems Infrastructure (software platforms and tools that are generic to any mission) and Mission Data Systems (mission-dedicated software systems that extend the generic software with specific adaptations for individual missions or mission families).
Mission Data Systems
Experts design, develop, test and maintain custom data systems dedicated to each of the missions that ESA operates from ESOC, including mission control, mission planning and simulator systems. We focus on the Agency’s science, Earth observation and navigation missions, and support the flight control teams throughout the life of a mission, beginning, in some cases, up to several years before launch.
Software and services to partner organisations
We also provide software and services to partners, including the mission control systems for the critical Launch and Early Orbit Phases (LEOP) of Eumetsat’s MSG and MetOp programmes and, as a third-party service provider, we prepared the mission control and simulator software for the Galileo LEOP.
Our teams are also helping to design and develop future data centres as part of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) preparatory programme and we support the ESA Integrated Application Promotion (IAP) programme related to data systems.
Working on console during critical launch phases
Our work is not only about developing mission data systems: we also make sure that our systems perform appropriately during critical mission phases. In fact, as part of the extended Mission Control Team, we work on console in ESOC’s Main Control Room as Software Coordinators during launch campaigns.
The Software Coordinator provides immediate support to the Flight Control Team, and is often asked to troubleshoot and solve software issues on the spot, which can be crucial during the critical initial days of a mission.
Data Systems Infrastructure
Here, experts design, develop, test and maintain software as part of an overall ‘ground control infrastructure’. This covers, in particular, the generic elements of mission control systems, simulator systems and ground station data systems.
R&D studies for future software concepts
We are also responsible for research and development (R&D) studies needed to explore and validate new functional concepts, to demonstrate the suitability and the maturity of new information technology and to harmonise design solutions in compliance with mission requirements.
By ensuring that future requirements and technology trends are taken into account early enough to enable the development of a validated and mature infrastructure, we ensure that future missions can reuse and share proven solutions, reducing risk and cost to the Agency. Our product line-up includes MICONYS control system software, the SIMULUS package used to create spacecraft simulators.
One of our highest profile products is the SCOS-2000 mission control software platform, which can be licensed royalty-free to European industry, national agencies and universities for use in a wide variety of applications.
SCOS-2000’s heritage comes from over 30 years of satellite operations at ESOC and takes into account the experience obtained while developing its predecessors: MSSS, SCOS-1 and SCOS-2. It was used operationally for the first time during the launch and early orbit phase of MSG-1 in August 2002 and since then has served all missions operated from ESOC.