Europe's "Gateway to Space" turns fifty
8 September 2017
German astronaut Alexander Gerst will be commander of the ISS for a space mission in 2018
© German Embassy London
The 50th anniversary of the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) was on 8 September. It was inaugurated in Darmstadt in 1967, just a decade after the Soviet Union placed Sputnik 1 into orbit, and has become known worldwide as Europe’s "Gateway to Space".
As the German Minister of Economics, Brigitte Zypries points out, ESOC is a "flagship cooperation project between the EU and ESA (European Space Agency)".
Over the five decades, ESOC mission control has flown 77 spacecraft, ranging from telecom, weather, Earth observation and climate monitoring satellites to spacecraft studying the Sun and peering deep into our Universe.
Succesful projects such as Galileo or Copernicus are controlled from Darmstadt.
In the 50 years ahead, digitisation and large data volumes are a key component to face future challenges.
The insights into space over the past decades have been a driver for innovation, communication and security. Satellites for example play a leading role in the tracking of natural disasters and peacekeeping missions.
Technologies such as Galileo have a huge market potential due to a wide range of applications and the supply of accurate data.
One of the most relevant cooperations of the ESOC is the ISS (International Space Station) mission, which is funded by the German Government with a total share of 39 percent.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst will be commander of the ISS for a space mission in 2018. He is the first German to take on this role.