The ESA Satellite Ground Station in Redu, Belgium.

The ESA Satellite Ground Station in Redu, Belgium

The ESA Satellite Ground Station in Redu, Belgium, has been in operation since January 1968, covering a sprawling area of 30,000sq.m, with 3,000sq.m. dedicated to development. This facility comprises technical zones, including control centers, technical equipment rooms, and antenna bunkers.

Over the years, the team of engineers and technicians at the ESA Redu Centre has witnessed a steady growth in the number of antennas. Their activities now encompass a wide range, from tracking telecommunications satellites like Artemis, Earth observation (Proba 1 and Proba 2), to navigation (Galileo IOT). In a significant development, on July 1st, 2007, ESA awarded a maintenance and operations service contract to Redu Space Services (RSS), facilitating the utilization of ESA facilities for commercial ventures, thereby optimizing on-site resources.

The ESA Redu Center currently employs nearly 50 individuals and is located approximately one kilometer from the village of Redu in the Belgian province of Luxembourg. It is equipped with an emergency electrical power generation system and maintains a redundant connection to the Belgian communication network through fiber-optic cables. The facility is staffed and fully secured 24/7/365, ensuring uninterrupted operation.

Notably, the Redu Center provides essential S-band links for ESA’s network of ground stations and conducts in-orbit testing (IOT) for telecommunication and navigation satellites.

The site boasts around 50 steerable antennas, operating across various frequencies such as S, Ku, Ka, L, and C bands. Among the largest antennas are the Galileo In-Orbit-Testing L Band (20m), ESTRACK S-band (15m), and TMS-1M Ka-band (13.5m). Thanks to support from Belgian authorities, significant investments have been made, including the installation of new power infrastructure to accommodate future projects and an extension of the station, adding approximately 10,000sq.m. ESA constructed a new facility to power the Galileo operations and accommodate new customers.

The existing array of antennas includes the 20m L-band, 4.5m C-band, and UHF antennas designated for Galileo IOT. Additionally, Redu houses 15 antennas of various sizes, including a 13m Ku-band dish, which will be maintained by RSS as backup for satellite operator SES facilities in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.

In 2009, RSS signed its inaugural Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) contract to modify the Ka-band IOT antenna at Redu.

Furthermore, IOT facilities, encompassing antennas, measurement, and processing systems, are now available for telecommunication satellites operating in Ku- and Ka-bands. These resources are utilized by ESA programs (e.g., Artemis) and European industry players such as Avanti, Eutelsat, and SES.

With its expanding portfolio of activities, Redu earned recognition as an official ESA Centre in 2009, solidifying its integration into the broader ESA establishment and center’s structure.