Space | 03. February 2014 | posted by Tom Uhlig

Col-CC blog – the beginning

Human spaceflight in itself is exciting – increasingly so for those of us in Europe and DLR in 2014, with the launch of two ESA astronauts, German Alexander Gerst and Italian Samantha Cristoforetti, to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will conduct research.

Once there, several control centres will look after them. The most well known is probably NASA's Mission Control Center (MCC-H) in Houston, Texas, where colleagues sit just a few metres away from the historical control room from where the Moon landings and the fateful Apollo 13 mission were monitored.

Our partner NASA has a second control centre in Huntsville, Alabama, which coordinates the US experiments on the ISS. Alexander Gerst will also work with our Russian partner, the space agency Roskosmos – after all, he will fly to the ISS on board a Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian control centre, TsUP, is located near Moscow. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, is also interested in Alexander Gerst and, as a result, the Japanese Control Centre in Tsukuba, near Tokyo, will also be involved. And finally, there's us – the Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC), located in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich and operated by DLR on behalf of the European Space Agency, ESA. Next to France, Germany is one of the largest contributors (Member States) to ESA, in particular to the Human Spaceflight programme. The German Space Operations Center, with which we are affiliated at the Col-CC, has decades of experience with human spaceflight missions.

In this new blog, we aim to use our expertise as staff at the control centre and take you behind the scenes of Alexander Gerst's 'Blue Dot' mission. In this context, we will pick interesting topics related to the ISS, the European Columbus research laboratory and space in general, as well as report on current developments.

Panoramic view of room 'K4' in the Columbus Control Centre.
Credit: DLR/German Zöschinger (CC-BY 3.0

We are starting to blog before Alex's mission for a variety of reasons. Firstly, because the mission preparations started some time ago – both for Alexander Gerst and for us. For example, gathering all the experts from mission partners in Huntsville to discuss the various experiments on Alexander Gerst's timetable. Secondly, we want to begin our 'tour' before the launch, and look forward to getting some interested readers and followers in the coming weeks!


About the author

Tom Uhlig heads the training team at the Columbus Control Centre that introduces the new colleagues to their work in the control room and certifies them. to authorpage