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In February of 2006, the Navigation Support Office inaugurated its modern Navigation Facility, at the European Space Operations Center (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany.

This facility has fast become a world-class provider of highly accurate navigation information, significantly enhancing data from key systems including, GPS, EGNOS and, soon, Europe’s Galileo system, and forms the platform on which the Navigation Support Office expands its activities to meet the growing demand for its products and services.

ESOC’s Navigation Facility provides a fully operational environment, compliant with ESA’s ECSS ground segment standards. The Navigation Facility consists of a control room including secure operational LAN (ESACERT – against intruders from outside) with two physically separated computer and data centres for redundancy purposes and a globally distributed operational real time sensor station network. An operational system availability of more than 99.9 percent on a 24/7 basis measured over the last 5 years (products delivered every 15 minutes) has been demonstrated.

Currently the sensor station network consists of 12 sites, but ESOC is extending the global network to at least 30 sites. Negotiations with new sites are currently ongoing or near completion. The objective is to deploy a homogeneous (all sites will have the same receiver and same antenna type) sensor station network by the third quarter of 2013. The deployment of new equipment on existing sites began in April 2012, and first results are very promising. The new type of geodetic quality GNSS receiver has been chosen, based on an internal selection process, and deployment is under way. Each receiver has 264 physical channels, is capable of multi-signal, multi-frequency and multi-constellation tracking and will be remotely controlled from the Navigation Facility at ESOC.