ESA European Space Agency: Europe’s Gateway to Space Capability with Other Nations

European Space Agency Logo The purpose of the European Space Agency shall be to provide for, and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems:

  • by elaborating and implementing a long-term European space policy, by recommending space objectives to the Member States, and by concerting the policies of the Member States with respect to other national and international organisations and institutions;
  • by elaborating and implementing activities and programmes in the space field;
  • by coordinating the European space programme and national programmes, and by integrating the latter progressively and as completely as possible into the European space programme, in particular as regards the development of applications satellites;
  • by elaborating and implementing the industrial policy appropriate to its programme and by recommending a coherent industrial policy to the Member States.

June 18, 2016: Soyuz TMA-19M Landing in Kazakshtan with ESA Astronaut
Tim Peake, NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra and Commander Yuri Malenchenko

The trio spent 186 days on the International Space Station. The landing brings Tim Peake’s Principia mission to an end but the research continues. Tim is the eighth ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space. He is the third after Alexander Gerst and Andreas Mogensen to fly directly to ESA’s astronaut home base in Cologne, Germany, for medical checks and for researchers to collect more data on how Tim’s body and mind have adapted to living in space.

June 7, 2016, ESA’s LISA Pathfinder Results

Launched in December 2015, LISA Pathfinder traveled to its operational orbit, 1.5 million km from earth towards the Sun, where it started its scientific mission on 1 March. At the core of the spacecraft, two identical gold-platinum cubes, are being held in the most precise free-fall ever produced in space.

Placing the test masses in a motion subject only to gravity is the challenging condition needed to build and operate a future space mission to observe gravitational waves. Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, gravitational waves are fluctuations in the fabric of space-time, which were recently detected directly for the first time by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

Over the first two months of scientific operations, the LISA Pathfinder team has performed a number of experiments on the test masses to prove the feasibility of gravitational wave observation from space. These results are explained in this video with interviews of Paul McNamara, LISA Pathfinder Project scientist, ESA and two LISA Pathfinder Principal investigators: Rita DOLES, University of Trento and Martin Hewitson, University of Hannover.

Click Here Read more in LISA Pathfinder exceeds expectations.

ESA Sentinel-3 Playlist, Click Top Left Grid for Video Menu
Sentinel-3 will measure systematically Earth’s oceans, land, ice and atmosphere to monitor and understand large-scale global dynamics. It will provide essential information in near-real time for ocean and weather forecasting. Click Here for More about Sentinel-3:

PrintThe European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

What does ESA do?

ESA’s job is to draw up the European space programme and carry it through. ESA’s programmes are designed to find out more about Earth, its immediate space environment, our Solar System and the Universe, as well as to develop satellite-based technologies and services, and to promote European industries. ESA also works closely with space organisations outside Europe.

Who belongs to ESA?

50_years_of_European_Cooperation_in_Space_highlight_stdAustria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Canada takes part in some projects under a Cooperation agreement.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia have cooperation agreements with ESA.

Where is ESA located?

ESA_HQ_Mario-Nikis_node_full_image_2ESA’s headquarters are in Paris which is where policies and programmes are decided. ESA also has sites in a number of European countries, each of which has different responsibilities:

  • EAC, the European Astronauts Centre in Cologne, Germany;
  • ESAC, the European Space Astronomy Centre, in Villanueva de la Canada, Madrid, Spain;
  • ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany;
  • ESRIN, the ESA centre for Earth Observation, in Frascati, near Rome, Italy;
  • ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
  • ECSAT, the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications, Harwell, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.
  • ESA Redu Centre, Belgium.

ESA also has liaison offices in Belgium, USA and Russia; a launch base in French Guiana and ground/tracking stations in various parts of the world.

ESA Story Links: 
EDRS-A and its laser are ready to fly
Robot arm simulates approach of ESA’s asteroid mission
Tim Peake to run London marathon from space
Couture in Orbit: from spacewalk to catwalk
LISA Pathfinder en route to gravitational wave demonstration
ESA station tracks Earth flyby mission
Cosmic filaments exposed near huge cluster
LISA Pathfinder launch timeline

History of European Space Agency

Views_in_the_Main_Control_Room_12052189474Europe’s history of excellence in space is one of the most visible achievements of European cooperation in science and technology that started some 35 years ago,” says Prof. Reimar Lüst, in his introduction to the History of the European Space Agency, now available on CD-ROM.

These two volumes are the culmination of over a decade of work, an initiative by three professional historians of science to write an independent academic history of ESA and its predecessor organisations: ESRO and ELDO.

Since its feasibility study in 1990, the History project has produced more than 20 reports in a dedicated ESA History Report series, and there have been a number of presentations, seminars and publications in specialised literature.

The project has been led by Prof. John Krige and Profs. Arturuo Russo (Univ. Palermo) and Michelangelo de Maria (Univ. Rome). The latter left the project in 1993 and his tasks were continued by Dr Lorenza Sebesta (Univ. Bologna). Their work supported by an eminent advisory committee of ESA pioneers, including Reimar Lüst, Michel Bignier, Peter Creola, George van Reeth) and outstanding European historians.

peakeThe project traces the history of the European collaborative space programme from its beginnings in the late 1950s to the creation of a single space agency in the early 1970s and up to recent developments, in the light of its main actors and policies.

“It provides valuable insights into the complex decision making processes in a unique multinational organisation which often involves a delicate balancing act between the various interests of its Member States,” explained Antonio Rodota, ESA Director-General from 1997 to 2003.

Volume 1 covers ESA’s predecessors, the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), and the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO). It describes the period from the birth of ESRO and ELDO in the early 1960s, up to 1973 when the new organisation ESA was born and the programmatic basis for the new agency was laid with the adoption of the so-called Second Package Deal.

ESA Astronaurts on ISSThis arrangement, and the First Package Deal of 1971, allowed for a mandatory scientific programme to be supplemented by optional application programmes in various fields, as well as two major undertakings, the Ariane launcher and Spacelab, a scientific laboratory to be carried on board NASA’s Space Shuttle.

Volume 2 covers the history of ESA itself, from its birth in 1973 to 1987, when the the Ministerial Conference in the Hague approved a highly ambitious space programme to carry the European space effort into the new millenium. It thus deals with the implementation of a palette of programmes in space science and applications, as well as the Ariane and Spacelab programmes adopted by Ministers in the First and Second Package Deals in 1971 and 1973 respectively.

handshake_1433744726_725x725These works are mainly based on the ESRO, ELDO and ESA archives housed at the Historical Archives of the European Community at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. By concentrating on this vast collection of documents, freely available for scholarly research, the authors were able to describe in detail the decision-making processes at the intergovernmental level which underpinned the formulation and evolution of the programmes in ESRO, ELDO and ESA. For more recent documents (from 1983 onwards), the authors were given unrestricted access to the archives at ESA Headquarters in Paris.

“Building on the lessons learned from ESRO and ELDO, ESA has become an outstandingly successful model of European scientific and technical collaboration. Its contribution to the development of a collective European space capability has been fundamental. The Agency has played an important role not only in space but also in uniting Europe,” said Antonio Rodota.