With a double-digit million investment, the European space agency Esa wants to build a new control center for its satellites in Darmstadt and modernize the entire location. A total of 52 million euros are planned for investments, said Esa director for mission operations, Rolf Densing, on Tuesday when signing the contracts. The new, futuristic control center is expected to cost 25.6 million. The remaining funds are used for basic renovations and demolition of other buildings on the site from the 1960s.

Modernizing the location is important. “We run missions worth billions,” Densing said. “It’s no longer up to date.” Ultimately, a new building is cheaper than a complete renovation. The ambition is to be at the forefront of mission operations worldwide. And: “The missions are becoming more and more demanding.”

According to the head of the Esoc property management, Wilfried Nzoubou, the groundbreaking ceremony should take place next year. The new control center is scheduled to be in place in March 2027. Only then would other buildings be renovated or demolished. The building that now houses the control center is also expected to fall victim to a wrecking ball. The complete modernization is scheduled to be completed in 2030.

The new control center building will be around 22 meters high, 56 meters long and 35 meters wide, said architect Raimund Haubrich. With its oval shape, it is also intended to be an interpretation of the orbits of celestial bodies. According to Esa, the new building should combine functionality, efficiency and sustainability with inspiration and representation. It will later be accessible to experts and the general public.

Esa currently controls around 25 satellites from its current control center. These include Earth observation orbiters as well as missions to study the sun, Mercury and moons of Jupiter.