ESA invests €52 million in Operations Center in Darmstadt

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to reinforce Darmstadt as a leading space operations hub.

© ESA - S. Corvaja

European Space Agency (ESA) plans to invest €52 million in its Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt in South Hessen. The agency will use the money primarily to fund structural renewal programs at the location, which is home to ESA Mission Control. ESOC employs around 900 people.

This exciting development was revealed by Rolf Densing, ESA Director for Mission Operations, and Simon Plum, ESA Manager, at a recent ESA Council meeting in Stockholm. The revitalization program aims to bolster Darmstadt’s status as a “center of excellence for space operations” – creating a cutting-edge facility to future-proof the agency. The positive impact of the investment is expected to extend beyond the agency itself, benefiting local scientific research projects and attracting partner companies and organizations who want to be close to the ESOC.

The project will begin with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building on ESA’s site in Darmstadt’s Europaviertel. The anticipated completion is in 2026. The ESOC, which opened in 1967, is over 55 years old.

Director Densing emphasized the critical role of Darmstadt as Europe’s gateway between Earth and space. The rapidly growing space security program is crucial for protecting humanity from space-related hazards, such as potentially dangerous asteroids, space debris, and phenomena like “space weather.”

Alongside these developments, the ESA acknowledges the increasing importance of IT security in protecting against cyber threats. With support from the nearby Technical University of Darmstadt and Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology, the agency aims to reinforce its digital infrastructure.