Human Exploration Control Center (HECC)

Artist's impression of the lunar Gateway, a habitat, refueling and research centre for astronauts exploring our Moon as part of the Artemis programme.


The Human Exploration Control Center (HECC) is integrated into the German Space Operations Center (GSOC). It has been planned since 2021 and will be developed from the Columbus Control Center (Col-CC). The idea is to establish a control center for all human spaceflight missions in the future, in which the Col-CC will be included, but which will also be able to handle future moon or possible Mars missions.

In addition to the existing ISS support, the ground segment is already supporting NASA's Artemis missions and supplying the participating European engineering centers with data from the Orion capsules. In parallel, preparations are currently underway at the HECC to support the other Artemis missions, for which the Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen in Europe will play the central role.

The HECC will assume operational responsibility for two modules of the Lunar Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit:

  • Astronauts will live and work in the Lunar I-Hab for around one month per year, from where they will be able to go on excursions to the lunar surface.
  • The Lunar View (formerly ESPRIT Refueling Module (ERM)) contains a window to allow a view of the small space station and the universe. Lunar View will also ensure the station's refueling capability.

The HECC will also operate the payloads provided by ESA at the Lunar Gateway and provide the Engineering Support Center for the lunar communication terminal Lunar Link.

The launch of the first gateway components relevant to the HECC is currently planned for 2026. Preparations are already in progress.