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First test of Europe’s new space brain

on 19 August 2021

ESA has successfully operated a spacecraft with Europe’s next-generation mission control system for the first time. The powerful software, named the 'European Ground System - Common Core' (EGS-CC), will be the ‘brain’ of all European spaceflight operations in the years to come, and promises new possibilities for how future missions will fly.

On 26 June 2021, ESA’s OPS-SAT space lab became the first spacecraft to be monitored and controlled using the EGS-CC – proving that this software of the future is ready to be extended across current and future missions flown from Europe.

The software was developed by ESA, European National Space Agencies and space industry, and will be freely available to all European entities, ensuring the continents’ place at the competitive forefront of space exploration.

Space lab tests Europe’s new brain

ESA’s OPS-SAT ‘Space Lab’ is a CubeSat developed with the sole intention of being a guinea pig for new operational software, too risky to test on other missions. And it is open for the public to experiment with!

Why this matters

More missions are being launched today than ever before, required to perform a wide variety of tasks from monitoring Earth’s landmasses, oceans and climate to peering out into deep space and even grabbing hold of defunct debris objects and bringing them back down to Earth.

Operated by an ever-growing number of space actors, these missions all need to send their precious data home, receive vital commands, perform automated on-board tasks and even make use of artificial intelligence technologies as they continue to evolve.

This new software opens up the possibility to operate bigger missions collaboratively, with multiple operators working in a distributed manner across countries and control centres, allowing them to work together to share expertise and support each other including during critical moments in a mission. It has been designed to encourage a collaborative approach in the space community bringing in flexibility and opportunities for exploitation not previously possible.

More details here.

Image credit: ESA