Share your memories

The ESOC50 blog is all about YOU! It’s about your stories, your memories and your experiences from five decades of ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt. What do you remember when you recall your time at ESOC? What was funny, emotional, unique or simply worth sharing? What were the successes or the not-quite successes and who were the people who helped Europe venture into space?

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Our 50th anniversary is an opportunity for everyone to look back at the past as we embark upon the future, and this blog is your platform for sharing memories. We encourage you to share stories, anecdotes, images or videos, and we hope the ESOC50 blog will become a unique repository of information for our colleagues across the Agency. To make this happen, we’ve established a few simple guidelines.

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Have you rummaged through your basement? Have you gathered up old (or even new) images or videos? Do you have a story or anecdote you’re ready to share? Have you read our simple guidelines on what to submit? Then click below to begin your post!

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Latest posts

Sitting on the dish

It was in March 1986 when I had the chance to witness the encounter of ESA’s “Giotto” probe with Halley’s comet during a mission to the Parkes Observatory, located in New South Wales, Australia, also informally known as “The Dish”….Read more


Virus in the MCS??

During MSG3 Sims Campaign someone did a joke about a possible virus in the MCS…bad move! Sim Officers use everything they can to harm the Ops! So it was a FCT-A Sim and SoftCoord-A Gianpiero would be on shift. I…Read more

2010s, Control rooms


From the archives

An ESA Bulletin from 1976 – one of the first ones – was dedicated entirely to ESOC: https://esamultimedia.esa.int/multimedia/publications/ESA-Bulletin-007/  

1970s, ESOC50

How many photos are there?

Eumetsat’s Project Rep. intensive photo shooting.

2010s, Control rooms, People

Roger Bonnet with Rosetta model Credit: ESA

Professionalism, talent, dedication

Editor’s note: Dr Roger Bonnet was ESA’s Director of Scientific Programmes from 1983-2001. When I think of ESOC, I remember without doubt seeing the first image coming from Meteosat, the first European meteorological satellite, whose story I witnessed as a…Read more

1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, People

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ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, Thomas Reiter (second from right) with members of the mission control team in the Main Control Room at ESOC, 3 December 2015, for the launch of LISA Pathfinder. Credit: ESA/K. Siewert

ESOC’s team spirit

Editor’s note: Thomas Reiter is an ESA astronaut and former Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations. Today, he serves as ESA’s Interagency Coordinator and Advisor to the Director General. During these 50 years the colleagues at ESOC have operated more…Read more


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What we were really up to on that day…

Christoph, I think it’s time we finally confess it (he agrees). This episode took place on the 7th of November of 2005, just two days before we launched Venus Express. Christoph and me are staring intently into a laptop during…Read more

2000s, Control rooms

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All the news that's fit to print

All the news that’s fit to print

A wonderful set of four ‘newspapers’ produced by long-time SIMs Officer Gustavo Baldo Carvalho, with enthusiastic support by many SOEs, Spacons and SOMs. Links for direct download at bottom.

1990s, 2000s, ESOC50, People

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MSG3’s Yesterday

At the end of MSG3 Simulation Campaign and LEOP FCT, it was sad to see a very good time ending…that’s when I thought, as a good Beatles Fan, to do an adaptation of their memorable song “Yesterday” which I called…Read more

2010s, People, Social events


Paper Two-Line Elements

Until 1987 NASA sent us weekly patches of the Two-Line-Elements (updated orbit information coming in two lines per object) on paper. A bit too slow for near real-time conjunction analysis like the space debris office is now providing on a…Read more



Herschel and Planck final deep-space operations were critical experiences

One might expect the director in charge of building space science missions to say that the launch site of a mission would be where the greatest memories were created. No, it is not true. Although the launch marks a culmination,…Read more

2000s, 2010s

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A memory from 1985: Exosat discovers a new pulsar

One of those long, quiet slews that Exosat used to carry out to point its telescopes and detectors from one target to the next one in the sky was on for that evening of May 18th, 1985. Long slews were…Read more

1980s, Control rooms


Giotto encounter

We cleaned up a bit in our PR basement and found an old folder with the lable “Giotto encounter”. Do you remember it? Do you have any old images from that day? For those of you who prefer video: Here’s…Read more



This is how it started …

This is one of the oldest images in the history of ESOC: With this signature, ESOC was born! 50 years ago. Does anyone of you still have images from the 1960ties?