The ESA Executive has adopted the decentralized scheme for the utilization of European payloads on-board the ISS. Under the overall management of ESA, the European User Support and Operations Centers carry out the majority of tasks related to preparation for and the in-flight operation of multi-user facilities. These activities are conducted by use of already existing national centers. This approach makes the USOCs instrumental in the implementation of the ISS ground segment for preparation, real-time data dissemination and provision of instantaneous experiment command processing. The USOCs act as the link between the user community and the ISS utilization. With five discipline oriented USOCs distributed over Europe, it is ensured that focal points for the preparation and conduct of ESA payload operations are established which are both very close to the payload operations on-board the ISS and the scientific user groups.
An Experiment Support Center (ESC) is delegated the responsibility for single experiments either as self standing experiments utilizing experiment specific equipment or as individual experiment performed in a facility. The ESC is mainly focussing on science and experiment operational matters.
A Facility Support Center (FSC) is delegated the responsibility for a sub-rack payload or an instrument in a payload. An FSC will perform the operations of the assigned sub-rack payload.
The Facility Responsible Center (FRC) is delegated the overall responsibility for a payload. Its functions focus on payload system aspects and are related to all phases of payload operations, i.e. pre-flight activities, in-flight operations and post-flight activities.
MUSC is the assigned Facility Responsible Center (FRC) for Material Science Lab (MSL), BIOLAB, European Drawer Rack, Electromagnetic Levitator and the Radiation Sensor Packages DOSIS. Task for the new payload "Exobiology Facility" are presently under preparation.
BIOTESC - BioTEchnology Support Centre
BIOTESC, the Swiss User Support and Operations Center (USOC) at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, is one of the five USOCs that act under the supervision of the European space agency ESA. BIOTESC supports the scientists in conducting experiments within the International Space Station’s (ISS) infrastructure.
BIOTESC is specialized in life-science research. It supports research groups from all over the world in scientific, technical and operational matters in order to provide successful experiments in space aboard the European Columbus-module.
In the preparatory stage of a space flight, BIOTESC staff are involved in planning the experiment and the development of the related documents. These include procedures for astronauts (crew), which detail how the experiment shall be conducted and what kind of hardware is to be used. BIOTESC members assist in crew training and as experts they provide planning inputs to ESA. They provide written information for the ESA and the flight control team in Munich in order to make sure all those involved are operating with the same level of knowledge.
Before an experiment flight can be declared as ready, the experiments are tested for their scientific and their operational compatibility. BIOTESC plans and executes these tests.
During the space mission BIOTESC assists the crew in performing the prepared experiments from their control rooms in Hergiswil.
BIOTESC also supports the ESA Education Payload Operations (EPO) team in preparing and executing simple science demonstrations. The EPO experiments are recorded on video and designed for children and young adults of the ESA member states. In these videos astronauts explain the laws of physics and the differences between life on earth and life in space.
On board the International Space Station (ISS)
BIOTESC is responsible for the experiments in the incubator Kubik and inside the science facility BIOLAB and for the utilization of the automated tracking device Nightpod.
B-USOC - Belgian User Support and Operations Centre
The Belgian User Support and Operations Centre is located on the premises of the Space Pool in Uccle, Brussels, Belgium. A consequent number of experiments/facilities have already been prepared and operated with the support of the B-USOC in conjunction with User Home Bases located at universities or institutes.
The main task of the B-USOC is to provide information on space research programmes and flight opportunities to scientists, and to provide technical advice to scientists involved in space research.
The B-USOC provides technical and operational support during the development and the operations of space experiments. All of the activities of the B-USOC are accomplished in different space research domains: microgravity, Earth observation, space sciences and space technology.
The accumulated experience of the B-USOC covers the support and performance of space missions and facilities since 1992, and include: EURECA (SOVA, ORA and SGF); IML-2 (BDPU); Atlas-2 and Atlas-3 (SOLCON and SOLSPEC); EuroMIR 94, 95/96 (CSK-1); RMS (2-Rip and TITUS); MIR 95 (MIRAS); LMS (BDPU); Neurolab (ALFE); and SpaceHab 98 (BIOBOX/HUDERM, BIOBOX/MARROW,and AGHF-2).
In the frame of the ISS utilisation, the B-USOC is responsible for:
CADMOS - Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales - French Space Agency
The CADMOS centre was created in 1993 at CNES in Toulouse, in order to support all French manned flights performed onboard MIR or Shuttle spacecraft.
More than 20 years of experience has lead to the craetion of a very large operational team at the CNES Toulouse Space Centre. Inside CNES, CADMOS is the dedicated centre for the preparation, validation and operation of scientific and technical experiments which need a microgravity environment.
CADMOS is built around a Main Control Room and a large laboratory area, and it is foreseen to improve this configuration for use as a USOC for the International Space Station (ISS).
The experience of the Microgravity CNES teams which became CADMOS, include PVH onboard Salyut 7; 51G on Discovery in 1985; six French MIR missions, one LMS mission, and one French mission on-board the ISS from 1988 to 2001. These missions are those for which CNES/CADMOS has been involved in all aspects of preparation and realisation of the payloads, together with the missions themselves.
CADMOS is the assigned Facility Responsible Centre (FRC) for the European Physiology Modules (EPM). CADMOS operates the DECLIC payload (Facility for the Study of the Growth and Fluids near Critical Point) developed by CNES in collaboration with NASA.
In support of external payloads, CADMOS is assigned as the Facility Responsible Centre (FRC) for the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) payload.
E-USOC - Spanish User Support and Operations Centre
E-USOC (Spanish User Support and Operations Centre) is a centre of Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) specialized in Research and Development (R&D) activities in the fields of space science and technology. On behalf of European Space Agency (ESA), the centre offers the necessary assistance for the preparation, execution and post-flight analysis of space experiments to the Spanish scientific community.
E-USOC is the point of contact for the Spanish user teams developing experiments which require microgravity environment, such as the International Space Station (ISS). It is also the point of contact for European Users carrying out space experiments involving the payloads which E-USOC is responsible for. The most relevant racks onboard the International Space Station for the E-USOC operations are the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) and the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). In addition, some experiments can be performed outside a rack.
E-USOC also provides information and promotes activities in the field of space sciences and fluid mechanics, giving technical and operation support to researchers and investigation groups which want to carry out experiments in microgravity environments or in any field of research related to space science.