September 11, 2015

Official opening of CNES’s new Issus-Aussaguel operations centre

Thursday 17 September, CNES will be opening the new spacecraft tracking and control operations centre at its Issus-Aussaguel receiving station. The new centre confirms CNES’s long-term presence at the site and the desire to acquire its own independent operational facilities. It also brings to an end the historic sharing arrangement with France Telecom established more than 30 years ago when both entities were overseen by the Ministry of Telecommunications.

Named Claude Chappe after the inventor of the telegraph, the new building—located close to the old one and covering a total floor area of 940 sq.m (640 sq.m of ground floor operational facilities and 300 sq.m of ancillary services in the basement)—offers numerous advantages. It is fully integrated with the Toulouse Space Centre (CST) and the agency’s information and tracking system, while close attention has been paid to safety and continuity of service, with two redundant links to carry satellite telemetry and telecommands to and from Toulouse, and generators, uninterruptible power supplies and batteries to take over in the event of a mains power outage. The new centre also complies with 2012 thermal management regulations, as heat from the racks and systems in the operations and equipment rooms heats the facility’s offices and meeting rooms, while sunshading structures ensure natural daylighting without overheating. Sleeves and ductwork are also all in place for the arrival in 2018 of a new-generation antenna to track the 300 to 400 passes every month of the 15 satellites operated by CNES, as well as those of certain of its partners’ satellites.

The official opening of the centre will be held in the presence of:
Marc Pircher, CST Director
Bruno Caubet, Mayor of Issus
Emilienne Poumirol, Councillor for Escalquens
Thursday 17 September 2015 at 11:45
Chemin d’Aussaguel, 31450 Issus
Members of the press are cordially invited and should register by e-mail with Please bring identification with you on the day.

When the original facility was built back in the 1980s, France Telecom and CNES’s intention was to invest in and operate a satellite tracking and control station together. This decision was justified by the medium-term needs of both entities’ space missions and by synergies between the SPOT and Telecom-1 projects.
Since the end of the 1990s, the role and strategy of France Telecom as a national satellite operator has evolved and these synergies have progressively been reduced, so it was decided to share assets at the facility and conduct operations separately.
Aussaguel site tracking 12 satellites
Aussaguel remains a key facility for CNES, where it tracks and controls spacecraft and collects mission data. Today, the 12 satellites controlled by the agency use the Aussaguel receiving station. The station’s multi-mission antennas are also an integral part of the network that swings into action for each Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Centre and the site hosts the mobile Ariane telemetry and tracking stations (SNA and NATA).
One of the S- and X-band antennas for the Cormoran project (2017) scheduled to replace those in the current network is also planned to be located at the site to serve missions such as Pleiades, CSO and SWOT.
Upgrade for CNES’s receiving station network
The Issus-Aussaguel station is part of CNES’s multi-mission network of stations across the globe, which also includes stations at Inuvik in the Canadian Great North, the Kerguelen Islands, Kourou in French Guiana, Kiruna in Sweden and Hartebeesthoek in South Africa. This network is used to position and stationkeep all of CNES’s and its partners’ satellites and to receive data—for Earth remote sensing, Universe science, climate monitoring, etc.—from the range of instruments they are operating. It supports two-way radiocommunications with these satellites via mobile parabolic antennas.
To accommodate the need for more satellite passes and the exponential increase in data transmission rates and volumes, the Cormoran programme is deploying a new dual-frequency model using S-band (2 GHz) for command and control operations and X-band (8 GHz) for retrieving mission data. This upgrade meets the requirements of new missions such as SARAL-AltiKa, operating since 2013, and soon Taranis and MERLIN. This new antenna will replace the venerable S-band antenna at Aussaguel, which is today 40 years old; two identical antennas will also replace those in Kourou (2015) and Hartebeesthoek (2016).
The aim is to ready the new network for the 300-fold increase in the data volumes to be transmitted in the decade ahead.
Nathalie Journo (local press)    Tel. +33 (0)5 61 27 39 11
Alain Delrieu    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 74 04
Julien Watelet    Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 78 37