The European Space Tracking (ESTRACK) network consists of a number of ground-based space-tracking stations belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA), and operated by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The stations support various ESA spacecraft and facilitate communications between ground operators and scientific probes such as XMM-Newton, Mars Express, BepiColombo, Gaia. Similar networks are run by the USA, China, Russia, Japan, and India.
The Core ESTRACK network is composed of seven ESA-owned ground stations and the ESTRACK Control Centre in the ESOC. Four of the stations are used for tracking satellites and launchers near Earth and three are used for tracking deep-space probes. Service contracts with commercially operated ground stations and cooperation agreements with international partners allows the network to track satellites that aren't in view of the ESA owned ground stations.
Each ESTRACK station is different, supporting multiple missions, some sharing one or more of the same missions. The ESTRACK core network consists of:
The antennas are remotely operated from the ESTRACK Network Operations Centre (NOC) located at ESOC. The ESTRACK core network is completed by antenna belonging to cooperative agencies and antennas belonging to commercial partners.
On 1 January 2013, the 35-metre station Marlargüe became the newest station to join the ESTRACK Deep Space Network.
The station in Santa-Maria can be used to track Ariane launches and it is also capable of tracking Vega and Soyuz launchers operated from ESA's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.
The antenna in Malindi (Malindi Space Centre (Kenya)) can be used for Launch and Early Orbit Phases.
The small antenna in New-Norcia can be used for Launch and Early Orbit Phases and for tracking rain, Vega and Soyuz launchers operated from ESA's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.