The centre includes a Main Control Room, which is the hub of activity during the first stages of a mission. Once the satellite is up-and-running, operations are switched to smaller, Dedicated Control Rooms. The work of ESOC begins as soon as a mission is pencilled in for study. As the mission evolves and develops, ESOC studies all aspects of flight control, satellite operations and communications.
Once a satellite is launched, the centre has to track and control the satellite. This includes sending commands to change the spacecraft’s attitude or orbit, and keeping a watch to see that it is working properly. ESOC also monitors the onboard instruments and sends new instructions when necessary.
A number of missions that seemed to be lost have been saved by experts at ESOC. They include Hipparcos, which was able to complete its three-year star-mapping mission, despite being stranded in the wrong orbit.
Last update: 12 October 2011