Fucino Space Centre – Ortucchio, Italy - Atlas Obscura

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Fucino Space Centre

Ortucchio, Italy

The largest civilian satellite control center in the world is located in the middle of a drained lake. 


Fucine Lake (Lago Fucino) located in Abruzzo was once the third-largest lake in Italy, but since ancient times, there were many attempts to drain the basin.

The large lake was surrounded by settlements, but while the basin provided fertile soil and plenty of fish, it had no outflow and was a source of malaria and frequently flooded. During the 1st-century CE, Roman Emperor Claudius attempted to drain the lake using a drainage tunnel. The water level was lowered but the lake was not completely emptied. Due to the lack of maintenance after the fall of the empire, the lake returned to its original size.

In the 19th-century, another attempt was made to drain the lake. Work began around the 1850s and the basin completely dried up in 1878. The whole area of the Fucino was dedicated to agriculture and it is now one of the most fertile regions in Italy.

The Fucino plain, being large, flat, and mostly uninhabited, was deemed the ideal place to build a large facility now known as the Fucino Space Centre.

This civilian “teleport,” the largest in the world, has been a pioneer in the use of telecommunication technologies since its opening in the 1960s. From here, the first moon landing in 1969 was broadcast to the world. The first internet connection in Italy also happened inside the Fucino Space Centre in 1986.

Now, the 370,000-square-meter facility contains over 170 antennas and is involved in countless satellite-related projects.

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