26/01/2018 3:29 pm


Christian Weickhmann CC BY-SA 3.0 via


As Europe’s centre of excellence for spacecraft operations, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre is home to the engineering teams that control satellites in orbit, manage the ground station network, and design and build the systems on Earth that support missions in space.

Each mission is supported by a ‘ground segment’ – a complex mix of hardware, software and networks that enable engineers to fly a mission. This enables teams to stay in contact with the satellite, monitoring its status and health and sending commands and receiving data from its instruments.

Developing and validating ground segments and ensuring they function bug-free requires an equally sophisticated testing capability.

Engineers use the Ground Segment Reference Facility (GSRF) to experiment and tinker with systems under development, testing new or upgraded software or hardware to ensure these work together as expected, discovering and solving problems before they can affect live missions.

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