Galileo's terrestrial nerve center in Fucino, Italy, 130 km east of Rome, formally entered service in December. With the first Galileo satellites due to be launched in August 2011, the Fucino Galileo Control Centre will oversee the running of all navigation services provided by Europe's global satellite system. 

Fucino is one of two Galileo Control Centers – alongside Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich in Germany – to monitor and control the Galileo satellites and ground stations and provide all the information products needed to support the Galileo navigation services. The twin control centers sit at the heart of Galileo’s far-flung network of satellites and ground stations distributed worldwide. They have split responsibilities; however, with Galileo set to operate continuously, they are fully redundant, meaning that one can step in for the other in case of need. 

In the initial phase, while the Oberpfaffenhofen center is in charge of controlling the satellites in space, Fucino holds responsibility for the overall navigation mission. Fucino will process the collected data and generate, transmit and distribute navigation products through uplink stations connected to the satellites to broadcast signals to users. The Fucino center will also keep the clocks on board the individual Galileo satellites synchronized with the time of the overall Galileo system. Galileo’s Fucino control center is located on the site of one of the largest satellite communication stations in the world. Opened in 1963 and hosting more than 90 antennas on 370 000 sq m, the station is used by Inmarsat and many other commercial satellite companies. 

Fucino is also employed by a number of ESA space missions and serves as the control center for the GIOVE-B prototype Galileo satellite. 

Like its German equivalent, the Fucino control center will be operated by Spaceopal, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Telespazio and Gesellschaft für Raumfahrtanwendungen (GfR) mbH, a firm set up by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to provide operational services for the Galileo system. 

Additional information is available from the European Space Agency