The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany operates a number of ground-based space-tracking stations for the European Space Agency (ESA) known as the European Space Tracking (ESTRACK) network. The stations support various ESA spacecraft and facilitate communications between ground operators and scientific probes such as XMM-Newton, Mars Express, BepiColombo, Gaia. Similar networks are run by the USA, China, Russia, Japan, and India.
In addition, other stations from other organizations as also used by ESA to support their spacecraft.
Each ESTRACK station is different, supporting multiple missions, some sharing one or more of the same missions. The ESTRACK core network consists of:
The antennas are remotely operated from the ESTRACK Network Operations Centre (NOC) located at ESOC. The ESTRACK core network is completed by antenna belonging to cooperative agencies and antennas belonging to commercial partners.
On 1 January 2013, the 35-metre station Marlargüe became the newest station to join the ESTRACK Deep Space Network.
The station in Santa-Maria can be used to track Ariane launches and it is also capable of tracking Vega and Soyuz launchers operated from ESA's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.
The small antenna in New-Norcia can be used for Launch and Early Orbit Phases and for tracking rain, Vega and Soyuz launchers operated from ESA's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.