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N° 46–1999: European Space Agency's control centre ESOC is certified to the ISO 9001 Standard

30 November 1999

On 30 November 1999, Antonio Rodotà, Director General of the European Space Agency, accepted the ISO 9001 certificate from the Chairman of National Quality Associates (NQA), on behalf of the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. ESA/ESOC, including the ground stations at Redu, Belgium and Villafranca, Spain, has been certified to comply with ISO 9001, the international quality standard. ESA thus became the first space agency in Europe to have one of its facilities certified to ISO 9001.


During the ceremony in the presence of the ESOC staff and European industrial contractors, David Dale, ESA Director of the Technical and Operational Support and initiator of the project, stated: "Through its operations centre, the European Space Agency has shown a high degree of commitment to quality over 30 years of spacecraft operations. The certification to the ISO9001 standards is the recognition of a quality system that is a guarantee for all our customers to meet their requirements and beyond. The staff is devoted to maintaining a level internationally recognised by our partners. I am proud that the NQA has conferred such a distinction for the first time on the European Space Agency's Operations Centre".

To achieve this, ESOC has put in place documented procedures covering all aspects of its activities. These relate to the development of systems for the communications to and operation of satellites in space, providing spacecraft operations services and providing ancillary services. To ensure the procedures are correctly followed, extensive training has been provided to all staff and internal quality audits have been systematically made of the work actually performed in all areas of ESOC. NQA will regularly check the operation of the quality system and verify that it remains compliant to the ISO 9001 standard.

Customers of ESOC can now have greater confidence in the quality of products and services provided by the centre, resulting from:


- Greater focus on customer needs and quality objectives- Improved communications with customers and suppliers- Clearly defined and documented responsibilities- Formalised systems to ensure consistent quality and punctual delivery- Errors rectified at the earliest stage, and not repeated The European Space Agency's Operations Centre now has in place a system to continually assess and improve the operation of its quality system that will be regularly controlled to maintain high level targets.

Note to the Editors:

ISO 9001 is one of a series of standards that define a framework of minimum requirements for the implementation of quality systems to be used in contractual situations. These standards have been adopted worldwide as suitable criteria for assessment and registration of companies by independent accredited third-party organisations, called Certification Bodies (in Europe) or Registrars (in USA).

ISO is the "International Standards Organization", a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from over 100 countries. ISO is a Switzerland-based non-governmental organisation established in 1947. Its mission is to promote the development of standardisation and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to foster cooperation in intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity. ISO's work results in international agreements that are published as International Standards.

For further information:
Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, Head of PR Office, ESOC
Tel: + 49 6151 90 2696
Fax: + 49 6151 90 29 61