ESA and national space agencies are jointly developing next-generation software for spacecraft control and monitoring.

The programme will see adoption of a common infrastructure by the majority of European space organisations, which will help improve efficiency and reduce technical risk.

The European Ground Systems – Common Core (EGS-CC) software will be designed to control satellites during all phases of the missions, including pre-launch testing.

Comprising control applications, monitoring tools and databases, the platform will facilitate electrical ground support equipment (EGSE) and mission control systems.

EGSE will be used for functional verification of a spacecraft during development. Using the mission control system, ground controllers will be able to issue commands to satellites, as well as receive on-board health status and scientific data.

ESA European Space Operations Centre ground systems engineering Juan Miro said: "This initiative represents a new approach to sharing and exploiting software products.

"All of us in Europe…will benefit from lowered costs and reduced risks, while European industry will enjoy a significant boost."

"All of us in Europe who need and use such software will benefit from lowered costs and reduced risks, while European industry will enjoy a significant boost in developing their products and services for the global space market."

Telespazio Vega will assume the role of prime contractor to develop the new platform and will be responsible for all the activities through final delivery in 2017.

The company is a consortium of 20 firms across Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, France, the UK, Romania, Austria and the Netherlands.

The source code of the new software will be available to ESA Member State companies through a community software licence, to further develop, add new features and commercialise applications built using the software.

ESA, CNES, DLR, UKSA, Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space, and OHB System signed a collaboration agreement on the EGS-CC in 2014. Italian space agency ASI plans to join this initiative.

Image: A software co-ordinator in ESOC’s main control room. Photo: courtesy of ESA / J. Mai.