Space Stations

Isdefe provides operation, management and maintenance services for the main ground stations in Spain of NASA, ESA and INTA. The Space Stations area also manages quality control for CNES, at the Kourou launch base.

Isdefe inherits its Space Station experience from INTA and INSA. INTA was responsible during the 60s for the management, operation and maintenance of NASA space vehicle monitoring stations, located in Robledo de Chavela, ESA in Villafranca del Castillo and INTA itself in Maspalomas (Gran Canaria). Later, since its creation in 1992, INSA subscribed to the activities previously developed by the INTA Stations Division and in 2005, it also assumed responsibility for the ESA Deep Space Station in Cebreros. Since 2013, with the integration of INSA into Isdefe, the Space Stations area of Isdefe assumed all responsibilities and competences of the previous Space Division at INSA.


Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC), Robledo de Chavela. NASA

Visitors Center (CEV)
European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Villanueva de la Cañada. ESA
Cebreros Deep Space Ground Station (CDSGS), Cebreros. ESA
Canary Islands Space Center (CEC), Maspalomas. INTA

Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC), Robledo de Chavela. NASA

This station is part of the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) together with the ones in Goldstone (USA) and Canberra (Australia) and is located 60 km west of Madrid, in Robledo de Chavela, an ideal area to provide a radioelectric environment that is suitable for receiving signals from deep space, offering protection against interferences.

The primary mission of the DSN is to establish communications with space vehicles dedicated to the scientific exploration of the Solar System, and is equipped with a large antenna system (including among others one with 70 metres in diameter and several of 34 metres), which make the DSN network a unique scientific instrument in the world for space research.

Isdefe is responsible for the management of the complex, its operation and maintenance, the use of its additional resources, the construction of new facilities and the modification of existing ones, always in coordination with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), entity answerable to NASA for DSN.

Visitors Center (CEV)

Opened in 2002, cofinanced by NASA, INTA and INSA with the following objectives:

Publicising of space science and technology.

Technical training for in-space activities.

Promotion of space and science in school and university communities.

Event organization.

Conferences on space.

Monographics on launches and special milestones in space missions.

The CEV is located in a modern building located at entrance of the Deep Space Communications Center of Madrid, in Robledo de Chavela.

The Center has the following facilities:

Exhibition hall no. 1: models, drawings and instruments used in manned flights, regarding the history and duties of the Communications Complex at Robledo de Chavela and the Deep Space Network.

Exhibition hall no. 2: information of space missions and the various planets in the Solar System; contains a 1:1 scale model of the space vehicle that was sent to Mars in January 2004 (MER).

Exhibition hall no. 3: models of spacecrafts and rockets, in addition to elements used in manned space missions, such as the space suit of astronaut Miguel López Alegría.

Projection room: used to project videos, presentations and conferences on space subjects and the activities performed at Robledo.

Small shop to buy T-shirts, caps, backpacks, etc.

Visiting hours:
From Monday to Friday, two visiting times, at 10:00 and 14:30 (for previously arranged groups).
Weekends: from 10:00 to 15:00

Telephone: +34 91 867 73 21

We hope to see you soon at our center!!

European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Villanueva de la Cañada. ESA

This center is located in the Guadarrama Valley, 30 kilometres west from Madrid. Founded in 1975 after an international agreement between the European Space Agency and the Spanish Government, ESAC it is part of the ESTRACK global tracking station network under the European Agency.

In 2004, the Center, known as the Satellite Tracking Station of Villafranca del Castillo (Vilspa), became officially known as ESAC (European Space Astronomy Centre), becoming the Center of the Agency dedicated to analysing data acquired during scientific missions.

In 2008 INSA renewed the contract with ESA for the provision of the operations and maintenance service of telecommand, telecontrol and data reception stations in ESAC and Cebreros until 2013, as well as the provision of general services of the establishment through delegation of the Agency.Actually, Isdefe provides this services because the contract with ENSA and INSA has been remortgaged

Cebreros Deep Space Ground Station (CDSGS), Cebreros. ESA

The European Space Agency, aiming to increase its capacity to support deep space missions, started the construction of a second antenna 35 metres in diameter (DSA-2, Tx/Rx in X Band and Rx in ka band), similar to the one already in operation in New Norcia (Australia), which was installed in Cebreros, province of Avila, approximately 70 kilometres northwest of Madrid.

As part of the contract framework with the Agency, INSA supported the reopening and commissioning of the Cebreros station where the Agency is installing its European communication systems for deep space missions.

Since the station entered into operation in September 2005, INSA, actually Isdefe has also taken over the maintenance and operation. Since then, it has been successfully tracking the Venus Express probe from Cebreros.

The antenna in Cebreros works in high frequencies in order to boost the return of data and help communicate with deep space missions such as Herschel PlanckLisa PathfinderGaia and BepiColombo.

Canary Islands Space Center (CEC), Maspalomas. INTA

The Maspalomas space station, owned by INTA, works with different space organizations and agencies in multiple missions. Some of these organizations include ESRIN, JAXA, ESOC, EUMETSAT, HISPASAT and HISDESAT.

The Maspalomas station is located in the south of the Island of Gran Canaria (Spain). The station is operated by INTA in cooperation with Isdefe.
This center is specialized in satellite control and monitoring operations, and is a part of the launch support stations network of the European Space Agency.

CEC Projects:

Observation and study of terrestrial resources (ERS-1/2, LANDSAT, SPOT, NOAA, AQUA, TERRA...)

Geostationary weather and communication (HISPASAT, METEOSAT, XTAR...) and scientific mission control (CLUSTER, SMART, ISS...) satellites.

The stations work with CREPAD (Center for Reception, Processing, Archiving and Distribution of Earth observation images) located at the station.

National control center for the salvage and resource mission COSPAS-SARSAT. This activity, promoted by the Parliament, has allowed executing hundreds of human rescues over recent years.

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