ESA and NASA extend ties with major new cross-support agreement
2 April 2007
G. Winters for ESA and W.H. Gerstenmaier for NASA signing agreement in Washinton, DC, 21 March
21 March ESA and NASA signed an agreement in Washington, DC, extending
the two agencies' long-standing cooperation in the areas of satellite
tracking, spacecraft navigation and mission operations.
agencies' new 'Network and Operations Cross-support' agreement covers
the ongoing provision to each other of services for missions where no
specific Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place, typically due
to the short-term nature or limited scope of the support.
type of support has been provided in the past, but was limited only to
the sharing of ground tracking stations and had to be arranged for each
mission separately through a Letter of Agreement (LoA), which was a
Agreement covers tracking, navigation and systems sharing
The new agreement was signed in Washington, DC, by William H.
Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, and
Gaele Winters, ESA Director for Operations and Infrastructure.
agreement constitutes a major milestone in the long-standing
cooperative relations between ESA and NASA, and covers cross-support in
the following areas:
agreement means ESA and NASA can provide each other network support and
space operations services more quickly, and this is becoming very
significant. The sharing of resources is a sensible and efficient way
to achieve enhanced space science value in an era of tight budgets,"
said Dr Manfred Warhaut, Head of ESA's Mission Operations Department.
- Bi-directional Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) services
- Space Navigation, including services such
as determining spacecraft trajectories and Very Long Baseline
Interferometer (VLBI) services
- Mission Operations and Ground Data Systems services
Enhanced effectiveness, reduced risk for both agencies
In particular, the bi-directional sharing of TT&C services will enhance effectiveness and reduce risk for both agencies.
interoperability will benefit both by providing immediate back-up in
case a mission's prime ground station is not available due, for
example, to local weather interference or earthquakes, by ensuring
additional station support during critical mission phases such as
launch, orbit entry or manoeuvres, and by expanding station resources
when ground tracking coverage might otherwise be missed.
Long Baseline Interferometry refers to accurately locating spacecraft
using highly sophisticated signal processing techniques and is achieved
using Delta DOR (Delta Differential One-Way Ranging) technology, used
by both NASA and ESA.
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Station controller at work in ESOC's ESTRACK Control Centre
2005, ESA has installed Delta DOR receivers at both of the Agency's
35-metre antenna deep-space stations, DS1 in New Norcia, Australia, and
DS2 in Cebreros, Spain.
first application of the new agreement is foreseen during the critical
Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) for NASA's upcoming Dawn and
Phoenix missions. ESA will furnish support via the Agency's Perth and
Kourou 15-metre antenna stations.
tracking stations network - ESTRACK - is a worldwide system of ground
stations providing links between satellites in orbit and the ESA's
European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany. The
core ESTRACK network comprises 11 terminals sited at eight stations in
Dr Manfred Warhaut, Head of Mission Operations
Tel. +49 6151 900
Email: manfred.warhaut @ esa.int
NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Tel. +1 202 358 1979
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