ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, is the control centre of the European Space Agency ESA. Since 1967 ESOC has been responsible for operating all ESA satellites, including the required ground stations plus communication networks. Successful missions such as Huygens, Mars Express or Rosetta were managed and operated by ESOC. ESOC is able to simultaneously control more than 10 satellites in routine operation as well as other satellites during their initial launch phase.
It is not surprising that such services require high performance and efficient data centres. With Europe extending its space activities, ESOC has been & expected to manage more and more demanding missions. The existing data centre almost reached its limits of performance. ESA therefore decided to erect a more modern, larger and, in particular, more efficient data centre on the ESOC grounds in Darmstadt.
The concept submitted by dvt Consulting AG came up first in the international invitation to bid and dvt was awarded the contract to carry out the overall planning of the new data centre. ESOC’s requirements were anything but easy, and quite complex. They had fixed an extremely tight time schedule and demanded maximum redundancy for all supply and communication systems as well as the incorporation of the existing data centre into the new comprehensive system, to name but a few.
First the individual planning stages had to be gone through and coordinated on a continual basis with all participants in the project. Only then could a solution be agreed upon which met all of ESA’s requirements. It was implemented in the construction phase following. dvt Consulting AG’s staff ensured that all planning requirements were implemented without exception. After a construction period of 1 ½ years the new data centre was officially inaugurated by Peter Gale Winters (ESA Director of Operations and Infrastructure) and opened for trial operation. Extensive system tests were carried out by ESOC during the 6 months following. Only when ESOC had ascertained that all systems met the specified parameters, that the staff were fully in control of the system and that all emergency scenarios had been conducted, could they move their first active mission to the new data centre. Since then it fulfils its real task, enabling ESOC to make further progress as “Europe’s Door to Space”.