On Friday 6 September 2002 the satellite control centre of the European Space Agency (ESA), in Darmstadt, will celebrate its 35th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), invites guests and the media to an on-site celebration. The programme will start at 10:30 hrs in the presence of the ESA Director General, Antonio Rodot·, and will end at 12:30.

Among the honorary guests and speakers will be Hermann Schunk, Ministry of Education and Scientific Research (BMBF), GÈrard Brachet, Director General of the French Space Agency (CNES), Achim Bachem, Executive Board of the German Space Agency (DLR) as well as Peter Benz, Mayor of Darmstadt.

ESOC, founded on 8 September 1967, is the control centre of ESA. It is responsible for the operation of numerous satellites as well as the necessary ground stations and the communication network. ESOC has controlled over 50 ESA satellites and supported more than 40 satellite missions for other organisations worldwide.

The Centreís long experience and the wide spectrum of services have convinced many external customers. All missions are developed and carried out in close collaboration with European industry which has helped the European control systems to gain an important place on the world market. ESOC is also a key player in the process of closer collaboration between the national agencies throughout Europe.

The space missions handled by ESOC in 2002 include two significant satellites in the field of earth observation: Envisat and MSG-1 (Meteosat Second Generation). Envisat, ESAís major contribution to monitoring the health of planet Earth, was launched on 1 March 2002 on Ariane 5. Its ten instruments check our planet with unprecedented detail and accuracy day and night, in all weather conditions.

Launched on 29 August 2002 from the European launch pad in French Guiana as the first of a new series of meteorological satellites and will be controlled by ESOC until its handover to Eumetsat, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

The launch of Integral, the next satellite to be controlled by ESOC, is scheduled for 17 October 2002 from Baikonur, Russia.

The Rosetta mission to the comet Wirtanen is planned for January 2003. ESOC will also conduct the first European missions to the Moon (SMART-1) and to Mars (Mars Express).

For further information please contact:

Communication Office
Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin
Robert-Bosch-Str. 5
D – 64293 Darmstadt
Tel. +49-6151-90-2696
Fax +49-6151-90-2961