European space agency

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European Space Agency

ESOC control room in Darmstadt
English name European Space Agency
French name Agence spatiale européenne
Seat of the organs Paris , FranceFranceFrance 
Chair AustriaAustria Josef Aschbacher (General Director)
Member States 22 :
Associate members 4 : Canada Latvia Lithuania Slovenia
Official and working languages

English, French, German

founding May 30, 1975
Facts and figures:
Budget: € 6.7 billion (2020)
Employees: around 2,300 (2019)
Spaceport: Center Spatial Guyanais in Kourou
Carrier systems: Ariane 5 , Vega , Soyuz

The European Space Agency ( English European Space Agency (ESA) French Agence spatiale européenne (ASE) pronunciation ), based in Paris was to improve coordination of the 1975 European space activities founded and technologically over the space powers Soviet Union and United States to occur equally and not technologically and to be completely politically dependent. It has 22 member states and employed around 2,300 people in 2019.

The ESA is the successor organization to the European ELDO , ESRO and the European Telecommunications Satellite Conference (CETS). Like them, she restricts herself to “exclusively peaceful purposes” in her European projects on space exploration and use.

The ESA is not a sub-organization of the EU , but is closely interwoven through numerous collaborations with the EU and the national space agencies of its member countries. The majority of the EU countries are involved in the ESA, in addition to which Switzerland , Norway and the United Kingdom are also involved .

Together with NASA, ESA is a founding member of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS).

Since March 1st, 2021, Josef Aschbacher has been the General Director of ESA .


The foundation

ESRO-2B was ESRO's first successful satellite in 1968

After World War II, many European aerospace engineers and scientists left Western Europe to work in either the United States or the Soviet Union. Although the boom in the 1950s allowed Western European countries to invest in research and space, European scientists realized that national projects could not compete with the two superpowers. As early as 1958, just a few months after the Sputnik shock , Edoardo Amaldi and Pierre Auger , two important members of the Western European scientific community, met to discuss the establishment of a joint Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries.

The Western European nations decided to create two separate agencies: the ELDO ( European Launcher Development Organization ) should develop and build launch systems and the ESRO ( European Space Research Organization ) should develop the scientific satellites. ESRO was founded on March 20, 1964 by an agreement signed on June 14, 1962. ESRO celebrated its first successes between 1968 and 1972: Seven research satellites were brought into orbit with the help of American launchers. ELDO, on the other hand, was unable to launch a successful launcher during its existence. Both organizations were underfunded and the split into two organizations did not work.

The ESA was founded on May 30, 1975 with the agreement on the establishment of a European Space Agency with the signature of the agreement by the initially ten original founding members in Paris as a merger of ESRO and ELDO. After France had deposited the last instrument of ratification, the foundation came into force on October 30, 1980 in accordance with Article XXI, Paragraph 1 of the Convention.

The purpose of the establishment was a better coordination of European space activities in order to be able to act on an equal footing with the space nations Soviet Union and United States. As was previously the case with ESRO, participation in the scientific program is mandatory for all members of ESA, while other programs such as application satellites, launch vehicles or manned spaceflight only take part in countries that are interested and want to contribute to them. The ESA gives orders to the space companies of the countries participating in the programs in accordance with the membership fees for the respective programs.

The beginnings

Giotto with Halley

In the early 1970s, when the contest for space advance between the United States and the Soviet Union had subsided and the budgets of the space agencies were dramatically cut, the ESA established itself as a pioneer in peaceful space exploration.

ESA started its first major scientific mission in 1975 with the COS-B satellite . IUE was started in 1978 in cooperation with NASA and the British SERC . It was the first space telescope in Earth orbit and was in operation until September 1996.

A large number of successful projects in Earth orbit followed and in 1985 the first deep space mission began with Giotto, which examined Halley's Comet in 1986 and Comet Grigg-Skjellerup in 1992. In the following period, a large number of projects were started, some in cooperation with NASA, which are listed below. As the successor organization to ELDO, ESA also successfully continued to develop its launch vehicles for commercial and scientific payloads as part of the Ariane program.

The more recent history

ESA logo until 2019

At the beginning of the new millennium, ESA, together with space agencies such as NASA, ISRO , JAXA or Roskosmos, has become a major player in space research with projects such as the Hubble space telescope, which was launched in 1990 .

While ESA still relied on cooperation with NASA in the 1980s and 1990s, various circumstances (e.g. legal restrictions on the exchange of information, incalculable project suspensions due to sudden funding cuts) meant that newer missions were increasingly self-directed or e.g. B. be carried out in cooperation with Roskosmos or JAXA. Since 2002 ESA's own ESTRACK network has not only had worldwide tracking stations for satellite tracking and rocket launches, but also its own deep space stations for lunar missions, missions at Lagrangian points and interplanetary space missions and the technology for rocket launches and critical flight maneuvers such as pivoting into a lunar or planetary orbit. Overall, the ESA is developing into a strong organization that is based more and more on its own competencies and the bundling of the services of the member states and the various national space agencies than on contributions from space organizations outside the ESA.


European Space Agency (Europe)
Guyane department relief location map.jpg
(5 ° 9 ′ 30 ″ N, 52 ° 38 ′ 34 ″ W)
(48 ° 51 ′ 0 ″ N, 2 ° 21 ′ 0 ″ E)
Paris (HQ)
(52 ° 14 ′ 0 ″ N, 4 ° 27 ′ 0 ″ E)
Noordwijk (ESTEC)
(49 ° 52 ′ 0 ″ N, 8 ° 39 ′ 0 ″ E)
Darmstadt (ESOC)
(50 ° 56 ′ 0 ″ N, 6 ° 57 ′ 0 ″ E)
Cologne (EAC)
(48 ° 4 ′ 0 ″ N, 11 ° 16 ′ 0 ″ E)
Oberpfaffenhofen (Col-CC)
(41 ° 48 ′ 0 ″ N, 12 ° 41 ′ 0 ″ E)
Frascati (ESRIN)
(40 ° 26 ′ 0 ″ N, 3 ° 57 ′ 0 ″ W)
Villafranca del Castillo (ESAC)
(67 ° 53 ′ 0 ″ N, 21 ° 6 ′ 0 ″ E)
Esrange (ESC)

Main facilities

ESA is organized on a decentralized basis. Most of the current locations can be traced back to facilities of the predecessor organizations.

ESA Business Incubation Centers

In May 2020, the following ESA Business Incubation Centers existed , each with a founding date:

ESA also has offices in the USA , Moscow and Toulouse .


Acting Director General of ESA: Josef Aschbacher

Since the French and Germans could not agree on the management after the establishment, the Briton Roy Gibson was appointed the first Director General.

ESA Directors General
Public officials Term of office Country of origin
Roy Gibson 1975-1980 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Erik Quistgaard 1980-1984 DenmarkDenmark Denmark
Reimar Lüst 1984-1990 GermanyGermany Germany
Jean-Marie Luton 1990-1997 FranceFrance France
Antonio Rodotà 1997-2003 ItalyItaly Italy
Jean-Jacques Dordain 2003-2015 FranceFrance France
Johann-Dietrich Woerner 2015-2021 GermanyGermany Germany
Josef Aschbacher since March 1, 2021 AustriaAustria Austria

Member States and cooperation partners

  • ESA member states
  • Associate member
  • ECS partner countries
  • Cooperation agreement
  • ESA member states
  • Associate member
  • ECS partner countries
  • Cooperation agreement
  • Country Accession (date of ratification) National Space Organization
    BelgiumBelgium Belgium 3rd October 1978 BELSPO Founding member
    DenmarkDenmark Denmark 15th September 1977 DTU space Founding member
    GermanyGermany Germany July 26, 1977 DLR Founding member
    EstoniaEstonia Estonia 4th February 2015 ESO
    FinlandFinland Finland January 1, 1995 Ministry of Economy and Labor
    FranceFrance France October 30, 1980 CNES Founding member
    GreeceGreece Greece March 9, 2005 HSA / HSC
    IrelandIreland Ireland December 10, 1980 EGG
    ItalyItaly Italy February 20, 1978 ASI Founding member
    LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg June 30, 2005 Luxinnovation
    NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands February 6, 1979 NSO Founding member
    NorwayNorway Norway December 30, 1986 NSA
    AustriaAustria Austria December 30, 1986 FFG
    PolandPoland Poland 19th November 2012 POLSA
    PortugalPortugal Portugal November 14, 2000 FCT
    RomaniaRomania Romania December 22, 2011 PINK
    SpainSpain Spain 7th February 1979 INTA Founding member
    SwedenSweden Sweden April 6, 1976 SNSA Founding member
    SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland November 19, 1976 SSO Founding member
    Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic November 12, 2008 Ministry of Transport
    HungaryHungary Hungary February 24, 2015 HSO
    United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom March 28, 1978 UKSA Founding member
    Associate members and other organizations
    CanadaCanada Canada 1st January 1979 CSA associated member
    LatviaLatvia Latvia July 27, 2020 Ministry of Education and Science associated member
    LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania May 21, 2021 LSA associated member
    SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 5th july 2016 SPACE-SI associated member
    European Union May 28, 2004

    Relationship with the European Union

    There is no direct connection between the European Union and the ESA; the ESA is not the EU's space agency. The ESA is an independent organization, but it maintains close links with the EU through the European Space Council and is financially supported by the EU. These relationships are regulated , among other things, by the ESA / European Commission Framework Agreement . 19 of the 22 member states of the ESA are also members of the European Union. This in turn means that some EU countries (as of 2020: 8 of 27) are not members of the ESA.

    Notwithstanding this, joint actions with joint funding are carried out under the ESA long-term programs ( Ariane rockets , Hermes space shuttle , Columbus space laboratory , etc.). In the meantime, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) has Art. 179–190 as an independent policy area “Research, Technological Development and Space”. Since 2009, with the new provision of Art. 189 TFEU, the research and development policy mandate to the Union has been to work out the contours of a European space policy. In this regard, Art. 189 (3) TFEU mandates the Union to establish all useful links with the ESA.

    European Cooperation States (ECS)

    Since the jump between non-membership and full membership was too big for some countries, a new membership status was introduced. The countries that have this status are called European Cooperation States (ECS) . For countries with this status, the Plan for European Cooperation States (PECS) created an opportunity for closer cooperation. In the five-year plan , the participating country and ESA agree on the joint projects. A maximum of twelve months are planned for negotiations on this. The companies and agencies in these countries can then take part in tenders in order to take part in ESA projects. The participating countries can take part in almost all programs except for the Basic Technology Research Program . The tax burden is also lower than with full membership.

    Participating States
    Candidate country Cooperation agreement ECS PECS ESA membership possible from
    SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia April 28, 2010 February 16, 2015 2022
    BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria April 8, 2015 2022
    Cyprus RepublicRepublic of cyprus Cyprus August 2009 July 6, 2016 2022

    The Czech Republic was an ECS state from November 2003 to November 2008, Romania from February 2006 to January 2011, Poland from April 2007 to September 2012, Hungary from April 2003 to February 2015 and Estonia from November 2009 to February 2015. These countries are now full members .

    States with a cooperation agreement

    The precondition for an ECS membership is the prior signing of a cooperation agreement. This is the first step in the direction of growing cooperation between ESA and the country concerned, up to and including full membership.

    The following countries have a cooperation agreement with ESA without being an ECS country:

    Candidate country Cooperation agreement
    TurkeyTurkey Turkey July 2004
    UkraineUkraine Ukraine January 2008
    IsraelIsrael Israel January 2011
    MaltaMalta Malta February 2012
    CroatiaCroatia Croatia 19th February 2018

    Agreement with Russia

    There is also a cooperation and partnership agreement between ESA and Roskosmos . The European-Russian cooperation began in 1990 with the transfer of knowledge, training of astronauts and the implementation of ESA experiments on Russian missions. So found z. B. the first spacecraft mission of an ESA astronaut took place as part of the Euromir-95 mission.

    In the latest edition of the framework agreement between ESA and Roskosmos dated January 19, 2005, a partnership was agreed for the development, construction and use of launch vehicles. This includes the construction of a launch platform for Soyuz rockets at the Center Spatial Guyanais , the European spaceport in French Guiana . This has been operational since 2011.

    Cooperation with national space agencies

    ESA maintains close relationships with various national space agencies. So far there has already been a case-by-case collaboration for the missions. The aim, however, is the better integration and use of facilities of the national space agencies across borders, the improved reliability through the use of such facilities as a backup for ESOC and the exchange of experience from research, development and deployment. This strengthens the operational stability of the ESA facilities and in return gives the national space organizations access to ESA's resources and experience. Overall, the degree of utilization of all resources and thus cost efficiency can be improved. Various ESA facilities are operated locally together with the national space organizations.

    • DLR has been with the GSOC in Oberpfaffenhofen since December 2018. DLR contributes its expertise from manned and unmanned spaceflight.
    • CNES in Toulouse

    France's role

    • ESA is headquartered in Paris, which underscores France's leading role
    • France pays the highest contribution to the ESA budget
    • Strong national space agency CNES with the largest budget of any ESA space agency
    • The development of the Ariane missile
    • Operation of the spaceport in Kourou
    • Engine development
    • Development of ion drives
    • Development of satellite buses

    Germany's role

    The diving pool at the EAC in Cologne for weightlessness training by ESA

    The European Space Agency has three locations in Germany.

    • The European Space Flight Control Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt has been responsible for the operation of all ESA satellites and the necessary global network of ESTRACK ground stations since 1967 .
    • The European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne is a competence center for the selection, training, medical care and monitoring of space travelers. It also looks after space travelers and their relatives during the preparation and implementation of the space missions.
    • The Columbus Control Center (Col-CC) of the ESA supports the European Columbus laboratory as an integral part of the ISS. The Col-CC is located on the premises of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich. In this context, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) represents the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany at ESA.

    Italy's role

    • Italy brought its expertise in rocket and satellite development to the founding of ESA. Italy was the third nation after the United States and the Soviet Union to launch a satellite into space.
    • European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) in Frascati near Rome in Italy
    • Strong company in the development and production of components
    • Development of the Vega light launcher
    • Development and construction of Harmony as part of the ISS

    Cooperations with universities

    The European Space Agency set up joint research laboratories called ESA_Lab with several universities . ESA Labs exist at the following universities (as of 2019, without claim to completeness):

    Council of Ministers

    The highest body is the ESA Council of Ministers. Every two years it holds a ministerial conference attended by all ESA members and partners. The conference meets in a city of a member country. Future projects and their financial resources are decided and, if an application has been made, new partners and members are accepted.

    In November 2012 the conference took place in Naples . funding for the Ariane 6 design studies has been approved. The meeting took place in Luxembourg on December 2, 2014. Here in particular the construction of Ariane 6 was finally decided. The Council of Ministers met in Lucerne on December 1 and 2, 2016 . Further funding for the ISS through 2024 and ExoMars has been set.


    The ESA is financed from the national budget of the member states. The shares of the individual states are based on the gross domestic product of the respective state. A distinction is made between compulsory activities in which all member states have to participate and a number of optional programs in which the individual states are free to decide whether they wish to participate or not. In contrast to the EU tendering system, according to the Geo-Return Agreement , the award of ESA contracts to the industry is based on the funding share of the associated member state. Due to the Convention for the establishment of a European Space Agency , a contract between the ESA and each member state, as with NATO or the OECD, some special legal regulations apply. Among other things, all income of the ESA and the associated employees are exempt from taxation and the social security systems of the respective member states. For this reason there is an internal tax for ESA employees. A separate health, accident and disability insurance is guaranteed for employees. In addition, a total of 2% of the annual salary is withheld, which is used to finance each employee's pension after ten years of service. If you leave the ESA with less than ten years of service, a severance payment will be made.

    In order to facilitate international work, the transport of ESA goods is exempt from customs, import sales tax and other transport restrictions of the respective member state. The purchase of goods that are necessary for ESA's work is also exempt from sales tax.

    Budget for ESA activities and programs (in million euros)
    year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Member States Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of
    AustriaAustria Austria 000000000000052.200000000052.2 000000000000001.80000000001.8% 000000000000050.100000000050.1 000000000000001.60000000001.6% 000000000000050.200000000050.2 000000000000001.50000000001.5% 000000000000051.500000000051.5 000000000000001.60000000001.6% 000000000000047.600000000047.6 000000000000001.30000000001.3% 000000000000047.100000000047.1 000000000000001.20000000001.2% 000000000000047.400000000047.4 000000000000001.20000000001.2% 000000000000057.000000000057.0 000000000000001.40000000001.4% 51.2 1.0% 54.8 1.2%
    BelgiumBelgium Belgium 000000000000169.8000000000169.8 000000000000005.80000000005.8% 000000000000187.7000000000187.7 000000000000006.00000000006.0% 000000000000188.6000000000188.6 000000000000005.60000000005.6% 000000000000189.5000000000189.5 000000000000005.80000000005.8% 000000000000188.9000000000188.9 000000000000005.00000000005.0% 000000000000206.0000000000206.0 000000000000005.50000000005.5% 000000000000203.4000000000203.4 000000000000005.10000000005.1% 000000000000191.4000000000191.4 000000000000004.60000000004.6% 210.0 4.3% 255.8 5.6%
    Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic 000000000000011.500000000011.5 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000013.700000000013.7 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000013.900000000013.9 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000014.200000000014.2 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000015.600000000015.6 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000032.700000000032.7 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000032.500000000032.5 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000033.100000000033.1 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 44.7 0.9% 43.0 0.9%
    DenmarkDenmark Denmark 000000000000027.800000000027.8 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000025.700000000025.7 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000023.400000000023.4 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000026.800000000026.8 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000029.500000000029.5 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000030.500000000030.5 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000031.600000000031.6 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000031.500000000031.5 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 33.8 0.7% 33.0 0.7%
    EstoniaEstonia Estonia 000000000000000.90000000000.9 000000000000000.00000000000.0% 000000000000002.50000000002.5 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 000000000000002.60000000002.6 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 000000000000002.70000000002.7 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 3.7 0.1% 2.7 0.1%
    FinlandFinland Finland 000000000000019.400000000019.4 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000019.500000000019.5 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000019.900000000019.9 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000019.600000000019.6 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000021.600000000021.6 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000019.400000000019.4 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000019.400000000019.4 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000019.500000000019.5 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 27.4 0.6% 27.5 0.6%
    FranceFrance France 000000000000751.4000000000751.4 000000000000025.600000000025.6% 000000000000747.5000000000747.5 000000000000024.000000000024.0% 000000000000754.6000000000754.6 000000000000022.600000000022.6% 000000000000718.2000000000718.2 000000000000022.200000000022.2% 000000000000844.5000000000844.5 000000000000022.600000000022.6% 000000000000855.9000000000855.9 000000000000022.700000000022.7% 000000000000961.2000000000961.2 000000000000024.200000000024.2% 000000000001174.40000000001,174.4 000000000000028.100000000028.1% 1311.7 26.9% 1065.8 23.4%
    GermanyGermany Germany 000000000000713.8000000000713.8 000000000000024.300000000024.3% 000000000000772.7000000000772.7 000000000000024.800000000024.8% 000000000000765.7000000000765.7 000000000000022.900000000022.9% 000000000000797.4000000000797.4 000000000000024.600000000024.6% 000000000000872.6000000000872.6 000000000000023.300000000023.3% 000000000000858.4000000000858.4 000000000000022.700000000022.7% 000000000000920.7000000000920.7 000000000000023.100000000023.1% 000000000000927.1000000000927.1 000000000000022.200000000022.2% 981.7 20.1% 968.6 21.3%
    GreeceGreece Greece 000000000000008.60000000008.6 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 000000000000015.100000000015.1 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000014.500000000014.5 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000012.100000000012.1 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000011.900000000011.9 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 000000000000014.600000000014.6 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000010.500000000010.5 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 000000000000010.500000000010.5 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 20.6 0.4% 19.9 0.4%
    HungaryHungary Hungary 000000000000005.00000000005.0 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 000000000000006.20000000006.2 000000000000000.20000000000.2% 000000000000006.20000000006.2 000000000000000.20000000000.2% 000000000000005.20000000005.2 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 11.7 0.2% 16.8 0.4%
    IrelandIreland Ireland 000000000000015.600000000015.6 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000017.300000000017.3 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000018.400000000018.4 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000018.000000000018.0 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000023.300000000023.3 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000017.800000000017.8 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000017.400000000017.4 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000019.500000000019.5 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 24.8 0.5% 18.8 0.4%
    ItalyItaly Italy 000000000000350.5000000000350.5 000000000000012.000000000012.0% 000000000000400.0000000000400.0 000000000000012.900000000012.9% 000000000000350.0000000000350.0 000000000000010.500000000010.5% 000000000000329.9000000000329.9 000000000000010.200000000010.2% 000000000000512.0000000000512.0 000000000000013.700000000013.7% 000000000000550.0000000000550.0 000000000000014.600000000014.6% 000000000000470.0000000000470.0 000000000000011.800000000011.8% 000000000000420.2000000000420.2 000000000000010.100000000010.1% 665.8 13.7% 589.9 13.0%
    LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg 000000000000015.000000000015.0 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000015.000000000015.0 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000018.300000000018.3 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000023.000000000023.0 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000022.000000000022.0 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000022.300000000022.3 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000026.600000000026.6 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000029.900000000029.9 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 29.9 0.6% 46.9 1.0%
    NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 000000000000060.300000000060.3 000000000000002.10000000002.1% 000000000000079.500000000079.5 000000000000002.60000000002.6% 000000000000125.1000000000125.1 000000000000003.70000000003.7% 000000000000074.700000000074.7 000000000000002.30000000002.3% 000000000000102.6000000000102.6 000000000000002.70000000002.7% 000000000000072.000000000072.0 000000000000001.90000000001.9% 000000000000091.100000000091.1 000000000000002.30000000002.3% 000000000000077.700000000077.7 000000000000001.90000000001.9% 100.3 2.1% 87.9 1.9%
    NorwayNorway Norway 000000000000063.100000000063.1 000000000000002.20000000002.2% 000000000000056.300000000056.3 000000000000001.80000000001.8% 000000000000057.100000000057.1 000000000000001.70000000001.7% 000000000000059.800000000059.8 000000000000001.80000000001.8% 000000000000059.600000000059.6 000000000000001.60000000001.6% 000000000000063.500000000063.5 000000000000001.70000000001.7% 000000000000064.000000000064.0 000000000000001.60000000001.6% 000000000000064.400000000064.4 000000000000001.50000000001.5% 86.3 1.8% 83.2 1.8%
    PolandPoland Poland 000000000000036.400000000036.4 000000000000001.20000000001.2% 000000000000028.900000000028.9 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000028.700000000028.7 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000030.000000000030.0 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000029.900000000029.9 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000034.600000000034.6 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000034.600000000034.6 000000000000000.90000000000.9% 000000000000034.600000000034.6 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 38.4 0.8% 39.0 0.9%
    PortugalPortugal Portugal 000000000000015.800000000015.8 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000016.100000000016.1 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000016.300000000016.3 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000016.700000000016.7 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000016.000000000016.0 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000017.000000000017.0 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000018.200000000018.2 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000018.000000000018.0 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 21.0 0.4% 28.0 0.6%
    RomaniaRomania Romania 000000000000007.60000000007.6 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 000000000000016.000000000016.0 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000022.500000000022.5 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000025.400000000025.4 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000026.100000000026.1 000000000000000.70000000000.7% 000000000000030.000000000030.0 000000000000000.80000000000.8% 000000000000042.600000000042.6 000000000000001.10000000001.1% 000000000000045.400000000045.4 000000000000001.10000000001.1% 34.3 0.7% 43.0 0.9%
    SpainSpain Spain 000000000000184.0000000000184.0 000000000000006.30000000006.3% 000000000000149.6000000000149.6 000000000000004.80000000004.8% 000000000000139.2000000000139.2 000000000000004.20000000004.2% 000000000000131.7000000000131.7 000000000000004.10000000004.1% 000000000000152.0000000000152.0 000000000000004.10000000004.1% 000000000000151.2000000000151.2 000000000000004.00000000004.0% 000000000000204.9000000000204.9 000000000000005.20000000005.2% 000000000000201.8000000000201.8 000000000000004.80000000004.8% 249.5 5.1% 223.6 4.9%
    SwedenSweden Sweden 000000000000065.300000000065.3 000000000000002.20000000002.2% 000000000000075.000000000075.0 000000000000002.40000000002.4% 000000000000094.600000000094.6 000000000000002.80000000002.8% 000000000000080.300000000080.3 000000000000002.50000000002.5% 000000000000073.900000000073.9 000000000000002.00000000002.0% 000000000000072.300000000072.3 000000000000001.90000000001.9% 000000000000072.400000000072.4 000000000000001.80000000001.8% 000000000000074.400000000074.4 000000000000001.80000000001.8% 83.2 1.7% 80.0 1.8%
    SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 000000000000105.6000000000105.6 000000000000003.60000000003.6% 000000000000108.3000000000108.3 000000000000003.50000000003.5% 000000000000126.5000000000126.5 000000000000003.80000000003.8% 000000000000134.9000000000134.9 000000000000004.20000000004.2% 000000000000146.4000000000146.4 000000000000003.90000000003.9% 000000000000145.1000000000145.1 000000000000003.80000000003.8% 000000000000149.4000000000149.4 000000000000003.80000000003.8% 000000000000158.4000000000158.4 000000000000003.80000000003.8% 167.0 3.4% 172.6 3.8%
    United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 000000000000240.0000000000240.0 000000000000008.20000000008.2% 000000000000300.0000000000300.0 000000000000009.60000000009.6% 000000000000270.0000000000270.0 000000000000008.10000000008.1% 000000000000322.3000000000322.3 000000000000009.90000000009.9% 000000000000324.8000000000324.8 000000000000008.70000000008.7% 000000000000300.0000000000300.0 000000000000007.90000000007.9% 000000000000334.8000000000334.8 000000000000008.40000000008.4% 000000000000369.6000000000369.6 000000000000008.80000000008.8% 464.3 9.5% 418.8 9.2%
    CanadaCanada Canada 000000000000018.700000000018.7 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000015.500000000015.5 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000019.500000000019.5 000000000000000.60000000000.6% 000000000000015.500000000015.5 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000013.200000000013.2 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000013.100000000013.1 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 000000000000019.700000000019.7 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000011.800000000011.8 000000000000000.30000000000.3% 28.0 0.6% 24.9 0.5%
    SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 000000000000003.40000000003.4 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 000000000000002.70000000002.7 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 000000000000002.40000000002.4 000000000000000.10000000000.1% 3.2 0.1% 3.1 0.1%
    LatviaLatvia Latvia 0.3 0.0%
    Different income 000000000000222.1000000000222.1 000000000000006.70000000006.7% 000000000000149.8000000000149.8 000000000000004.60000000004.6% 000000000000204.4000000000204.4 000000000000005.50000000005.5% 000000000000209.8000000000209.8 000000000000005.60000000005.6% 000000000000194.5000000000194.5 000000000000004.90000000004.9% 000000000000199.6000000000199.6 000000000000004.80000000004.8% 181.3 3.7% 197.6 4.3%
    Total ESA 000000000002932.40000000002,932.4 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003109.50000000003,109.5 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003339.30000000003,339.3 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003241.20000000003,241.2 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003740.00000000003,740.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003780.00000000003,780.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000003980.00000000003,980.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000004180.00000000004,180.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000004870.00000000004,870.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 4,550.0 100.0%
    Budget for programs from other institutions (in million euros)
    year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
    Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of Million € proportion of
    European UnionEuropean Union European Union 000000000000867.7000000000867.7 000000000000077.500000000077.5% 000000000000911.1000000000911.1 000000000000077.700000000077.7% 000000000000623.9000000000623.9 000000000000081.800000000081.8% 000000000001030.50000000001,030.5 000000000000086.500000000086.5% 000000000001324.80000000001,324.8 000000000000087.800000000087.8% 000000000001697.90000000001,697.9 000000000000086.100000000086.1% 000000000001314.90000000001,314.9 000000000000080.900000000080.9% 000000000001249.70000000001,249.7 000000000000081.300000000081.3% 1,536.4 84.9% 1,687.4 87.0%
    EUMETSAT / ECS states 000000000000005.80000000005.8 000000000000000.50000000000.5% 000000000000004.60000000004.6 000000000000000.40000000000.4% 000000000000075.000000000075.0 000000000000009.80000000009.8% 000000000000122.4000000000122.4 000000000000010.300000000010.3% 000000000000147.9000000000147.9 000000000000009.80000000009.8% 000000000000182.7000000000182.7 000000000000009.30000000009.3% 000000000000221.1000000000221.1 000000000000013.600000000013.6% 000000000000187.2000000000187.2 000000000000012.200000000012.2% 200.4 11.1% 194.7 10.0%
    Different income 000000000000246.5000000000246.5 000000000000022.000000000022.0% 000000000000256.8000000000256.8 000000000000021.900000000021.9% 000000000000063.800000000063.8 000000000000008.40000000008.4% 000000000000038.800000000038.8 000000000000003.30000000003.3% 000000000000035.600000000035.6 000000000000002.40000000002.4% 000000000000090.700000000090.7 000000000000004.60000000004.6% 000000000000088.500000000088.5 000000000000005.40000000005.4% 000000000000099.500000000099.5 000000000000006.50000000006.5% 73.2 4.0% 57.9 3.0%
    Total 000000000001120.00000000001,120.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001172.50000000001,172.5 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000000762.7000000000762.7 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001191.70000000001,191.7 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001510.00000000001,510.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001970.00000000001,970.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001620.00000000001,620.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001540.00000000001,540.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 000000000001810.00000000001,810.0 000000000000100.0000000000100.0% 1,940.0 100.0%


    The ESA operates a large number of projects. These are partly carried out in-house and partly in cooperation with other space agencies.


    An Ariane 5 ECA An Ariane 42P
    An Ariane 5 ECA
    An Ariane 42P

    The launchers ESA called Ariane , start near the equator in Kourou ( French Guiana ). The rocket launch near the equator offers fundamental advantages over launch sites far from the equator in the northern or southern hemisphere. Due to the rotation of the earth, the rocket already has the maximum basic speed mediated on the earth's surface and requires less fuel to reach the speed required in orbit. Ariane 1 was first launched in 1979. The current generation is Ariane 5 . In addition, Ariane 6 is under construction and should be significantly cheaper than Ariane 5. The first flight is planned for 2021.

    In addition, the Vega launcher , which made its maiden flight in February 2012 , was developed for smaller payloads .

    Since 2011, Soyuz-2 rockets have also been able to launch from the new ELS launch pad in Kourou . This makes it the first Soyuz missile launch site outside of the CIS .

    Selection process

    A scientific project of the ESA (Space Science) goes through the following phases before it is realized:

    • Idea generation ( Call for Ideas ): During this phase, the scientific community is asked to propose missions. These proposals are examined by peer review committees and recommendations are made as to which proposals should advance to the next phase.
    • Assessment phase ( assessment phase ): Now be a maximum of four missions from the Science Program Committee selected. The respective mission team designs the payload together with ESA engineers . The aim is to show the scientific value and the technical feasibility of the mission. One of the four missions will then be selected by the Space Science Advisory Committee for the next phase.
    • Definition phase : Here the costs and the schedule for the mission are to be planned. At the end of the day, the contract partner entrusted with building the instruments is selected.
    • Development phase: In this phase, the program is developed and implemented together with the selected industrial partner.


    Ulf Merbold was the first ESA astronaut in space

    The projects can be classified into several areas of activity:

    • Human Space Flight and Exploration
    The ISS with the ATV Johannes Kepler
    The Human Spaceflight and Exploration division brings together ESA's efforts in the field of manned spaceflight . ESA does not have its own manned space program, but participates in various programs of other space agencies with its own contributions. This includes the activities related to the International Space Station and the European Astronaut Corps .
    Active astronauts at ESA
    astronaut nationality entering at Age
    Samantha Cristoforetti ItalyItaly Italy May 20, 2009 44
    Pedro Duque SpainSpain Spain May 15, 1992 58
    Alexander Gerst GermanyGermany Germany May 20, 2009 45
    Andreas Mogensen DenmarkDenmark Denmark May 20, 2009 44
    Luca Parmitano ItalyItaly Italy May 20, 2009 44
    Timothy Peake United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom May 20, 2009 49
    Thomas Pesquet FranceFrance France May 20, 2009 43
    Roberto Vittori ItalyItaly Italy Aug 1, 1998 56
    Matthias Maurer GermanyGermany Germany Feb. 2, 2017 51
    • navigation
    The navigation activity area deals with the further development of satellite navigation .
    • Observing the Earth
    The area Observing the Earth comprises the activities of ESA in the field of Earth observation for the purpose of weather forecasts with weather satellites , the long-term satellite measurements of environmental and climatic parameters (ice thickness, Earth's magnetic field, etc.) and the monitoring of risks (volcanic eruptions and floods).
    • Research and Technology
    The development of basic technologies for the other areas belong to the Research and Technology area .
    • Space Science (As a compulsory program, it is - the only one - compulsory for all members.)
    The exploration of the solar system and beyond with probes, robots and telescopes as well as the development of the necessary tools takes place in this area. The ESA's long-term plans for this area were developed in successive framework programs. In the mid-1980s, the Horizon 2000 was initially defined, which was updated in the mid-1990s in the Horizon 2000 Plus . As part of the subsequent Cosmic Vision process, the currently valid Plan Cosmic Vision 2015–2025 was developed, with the overarching questions: What are the conditions for the formation of planets and the emergence of life? How does the solar system work? What are the basic physical laws of the universe? How did the universe come about and what is it made of?
    • Telecommunications
    In this sector, ESA mainly develops means of communication on earth with communication satellites .

    Completed Projects

    The following satellites and probes have completed their missions. You are now in a cemetery orbit , have crashed or burned up in the atmosphere .

    Operating time description description
    1975-1982 COS-B First ESA mission, investigation of gamma radiation sources .
    1977-1987 ISEE 2 Program of three spacecraft to study the interactions of the solar wind with the earth's magnetosphere . ISEE 1 and 3 were from NASA. After the primary mission, ISEE 3 was used as the ICE comet probe.
    1977-2017 Meteosat 1-7 First generation European geostationary weather satellites. From Meteosat-4 onwards they were officially operational satellites.
    1978-1996 IUE Space telescope in the range of ultraviolet radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere.
    1978-1985 GEOS 2 Measurements of the earth's magnetosphere in the GEO. (Replacement satellite for GEOS 1)
    1983-1986 EXOSAT First ESA mission to examine X-ray sources .
    1983-2002 ECS 1-5 ESA's first operational communication satellites, launched between 1983 and 1988. ECS 3 was lost in the event of a false start. They were operated by Eutelsat under the name Eutelsat I F-1 to F-5. Eutelsat I F-4 was the last to go out of service in 2002.
    1985-1992 Giotto ESA 's first deep space mission to Halley's Comet and Grigg-Skjellerup . Giotto first found traces of organic material on a comet.
    1989-1993 Olympus An extremely large experimental communications satellite for the time . It was a high performance television satellite working in the BSS band and conducting experiments in the Ku band and Ka band .
    1989-1993 Hipparcos Astremometric satellite, mapped around 100,000 stars with very high precision and more than a million stars with lower precision.
    1990-2009 Ulysses Probe that flew first over the solar poles . Provided knowledge about the magnetic field of the sun and the solar wind . (ESA and NASA, built in Europe)
    1991-2000 ERS-1 With the first “Earth Remote Sensing” satellite, a new era of earth remote sensing began for ESA. Comprehensive data on the state of the seas, the atmosphere and land surfaces were collected using six instruments.
    1992-1993 EURECA Europe's free-flying platform was ESA's first reusable satellite and carried out microgravity experiments and much more. EURECA was launched from a space shuttle and captured by another.
    1995-2011 ERS-2 Continued the work of ERS-1 to study the earth with radar , microwave and infrared sensors and also carried a new instrument for monitoring the ozone hole .
    1995-1998 ISO Space telescope in the infrared range
    1997-2005 Huygens In January 2005, the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan , photographed the surface and carried out chemical analyzes. This makes Huygens the first probe to land on a moon on another planet. (ESA's contribution to the NASA / ASI Cassini mission)
    2001-2013 Artemis Communications satellite. Should demonstrate direct connections to cell phone users on the ground, collect data from other satellites via laser beams and transmit navigation signals for EGNOS . (ESA and JAXA)
    2002–2012 Envisat The largest remote sensing satellite in the world at eight tons . Observed the earth with further developed versions of the instruments used at ERS-2 as well as with several new optical sensors.
    2003-2006 SMART-1 A mission to the moon to determine the chemical composition of the surface. New technologies (for example an ion propulsion system as the main propulsion system) were also successfully tested. On September 3, 2006, the probe hit the moon as planned.
    2005-2014 Venus Express Space probe after the pattern of Mars Express , the Venus has been studied.
    2005 SSETI Express The "student satellite" was built by students and was intended to test technology for other student projects. German participation came from the universities of Stuttgart, Würzburg and Dortmund. However, the satellite failed shortly after launch.
    2009-2013 Herschel Infrared space telescope that observed the formation of stars and galaxies in the second Lagrange point . The mission ended when the liquid helium ran out.
    2009-2013 Planck Planck measured the cosmic background radiation with high accuracy at the second Lagrange point. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the Big Bang . On August 14, 2013, Planck was withdrawn from the L2 point and finally shut down on October 23, 2013.
    2009-2013 GOCE GOCE provided data on the earth's global and regional gravitational field. This has advanced research in the field of ocean circulation, the physics of the earth's interior, earth surveying and observation, and changes in sea levels.
    2006-2014 COROT COROT (Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits) was looking for exoplanets . The COROT mission was under the French leadership of CNES with ESA participation. The COROT telescope searched for gas giants (Hot Jupiters) and earth-like planets .
    2008-2014 ATV The ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) was an unmanned supply vehicle. It carried supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).
    2015 IXV The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) was an unmanned and automatic spacecraft from ESA for researching the re-entry phases into the earth's atmosphere as well as a test platform for the technologies required for this, which can also be used in future reusable space shuttles.
    2004-2016 Rosetta The probe approached the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet and dropped a lander in November 2014. (ESA plus lander under German-French management). On September 30, 2016, at the end of the mission, she went down on the comet as planned.
    2015-2017 LISA Pathfinder LISA Pathfinder (formerly SMART-2) was a test mission for the technologies of the LISA mission. The detection of gravitational waves, formation flights and interference measurements were tested.

    Current projects

    These projects are in the active phase in which data is being obtained.
    Starting year description description
    1990 Hubble Space Telescope Telescope in the optical, UV and IR range (ESA and NASA)
    1995 SOHO Solar and heliosphere observatory. Has made discoveries about the interior and atmosphere of the sun and constantly monitors solar storms . (ESA and NASA, built in Europe)
    1999 XMM Newtons Space observatory with three telescopes, each equipped with 58 nested mirrors, for X-ray astronomy .
    2000 Cluster II Four satellites operated in a network. Provide a three-dimensional picture of collisions between the solar wind and the earth's magnetic field and of the associated magnetic storms in space. (ESA and NASA, built in Europe)
    2001 Proba-1 A small satellite that acts largely autonomously and intelligently and yet is not expensive. Presentation of new technologies.
    2002-2015 MSG Second generation of Meteosat satellites. MSG-1 is in operation as Meteosat-8, MSG-2 as Meteosat-9, MSG-3 as Meteosat-10 . (ESA and EUMETSAT )
    2002 integral First space telescope that can observe objects in the visible, gamma-ray and X-ray range. One of the main goals is to study gamma bursts .
    2003 Mars Express First European Mars probe. In addition to a high-resolution stereo camera, it has a Fourier spectrometer to search for water resources. (ESA plus lander under British management)
    2003 Double star This mission, launched by ESA and the Chinese CNSA, is intended to investigate the effects of the sun on the climate with two satellites working together, similar to the cluster satellites.
    2004 EGNOS A project to support satellite navigation by specifying the error on position determination.
    2005 Galileo Satellite navigation system commissioned by the EU as an alternative to the Russian GLONASS or American GPS . Allows greater accuracy and availability, as well as the location of emergency transmitters.
    2006-2018 METOP A, B, C Weather satellites in polar orbit intended to replace two NOAA satellites . METOP-A started in 2006, METOP-B in 2012 and METOP-C in 2018. (ESA and EUMETSAT )
    2006− ... ARTES-11 As part of the project, a platform for small, geostationary satellites is to be developed under the name SmallGEO . "Artes" stands for "Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems". The development is carried out by a consortium led by OHB .
    2008 Columbus The space laboratory is an ESA contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) . It was coupled to the space station in 2008 and serves as a multi-purpose laboratory for multidisciplinary research under conditions of weightlessness (space conditions).
    2009 SMOS The aim of SMOS is to create global maps of the soil water concentration and the salinity of the oceans. Above all, this would improve understanding of the water cycle and climate and storm forecasts.
    2010 CryoSat-2 The Cryosat-2 satellite has an altitude radar that can measure the thickness of the polar ice sheet. The satellite is a replacement for the CryoSat, which was lost in 2005 due to a launcher failure.
    2010 HYLAS Small flexible communications satellite developed with ESA support.
    2013 Alphasat I-XL Experimental communication satellite from ESA and CNES based on the Alphabus satellite platform . Inmarsat wants to use the satellite for mobile communications in the L-band . There are four ESA experiments on board, including Transmitting facilities in the Q / V band (36–56 GHz) and laser communication with other satellites.
    2013 Gaia Astrometric survey, measures magnitudes, movement, colors and spectra of celestial objects. Gaia DR1 , Gaia DR2 and Gaia EDR3 have been released so far. Mission is extended until the end of fuel around 2025. The final catalog is expected three years after the end of the mission.
    2013 SWARM SWARM consists of three satellites that will study the dynamics of the earth's magnetic field.
    2014 Sentinel-1 A Earth observation satellite as part of Copernikus , which is supposed to make radar recordings according to the SAR principle in C-band and thus guarantee the data continuity of ERS and Envisat.
    2016 ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Mission to explore the Martian atmosphere within the ExoMars project. In addition, a small lander (Schiaparelli) will be carried, with which landing techniques on Mars will be tested.
    2016 Sentinel-1 B Supplement to Sentinel-1A (part of Copernicus ). As a successor to ERS and Envisat, radar recordings are to be made according to the SAR principle in C-band in order to ensure data continuity for long-term research on climate impact research .
    2018 ADM-Aeolus This mission is intended to provide more precise data on atmospheric movements (wind) and thus improve forecasts with numerical weather forecast models.
    2018 BepiColombo This two-part ESA-JAXA mission, launched on October 20, 2018, is intended to map the planet Mercury and examine its magnetosphere in detail.
    2019 CHEOPS The Cheops space telescope is intended to determine the main properties of exoplanets that have already been discovered.
    2020 Solar orbiter The Solar Orbiter should come close to the sun up to 45 solar radii and deliver images of the solar atmosphere with a resolution of 100 km per pixel. The polar regions of the sun, which are not visible from the earth, should also be studied.

    Projects in development

    Projects that have passed the assessment phase and are to be implemented.
    Starting year
    description description
    2021 ERA European robotic arm to be attached to the Russian module of the ISS in 2020 at the earliest.
    2021 IBDM The International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM) is being developed as a docking adapter for manned spaceships. It is to be used in the Dream Chaser for coupling to the International Space Station.
    2021-2032 MTG The third generation of the successful Meteosat satellites.
    2021 JWST The James Webb Space Telescope is being developed by NASA in collaboration with ESA as the successor to the Hubble telescope.
    2022 EarthCARE The EarthCARE mission aims to collect data on the interactions between radiation, aerosol and cloud formation processes. This enables more accurate weather and climate models. The mission is being carried out jointly with the Japanese space agency JAXA .
    2022 Euclid Euclid is supposed to measure the acceleration of the expansion of the universe in order to be able to draw conclusions about the dark energy and matter.
    2022 ExoMars Rover A Mars rover as part of the Aurora program; Funding approved in December 2005.
    2022 JUICE Mission to the moons of Jupiter Europa , Callisto and Ganymede . An orbiter that is to enter an orbit around Ganymede after two flybys of Europe and one of Callisto. European part of the Europa Jupiter System Mission / Laplace from which NASA withdrew.
    2022 Biomass To determine the biomass that is in the forests, to study the carbon cycle on earth.
    2023 Hera Mission to the asteroid (65803) Didymos
    2025 ClearSpace-1 ClearSpace-1 is a planned mission to test and eventually carry out the disposal of space debris . To this end, ESA contributed CHF 90 million to the project, which is expected to cost around CHF 120 million in total. A space probe equipped with four gripper arms will first intercept a stage rocket for test purposes and cause it to burn up in the earth's atmosphere . In the long term, orbiters should capture space debris.
    2026 PLATO PLA netary T ransits and O scillations of stars (PLATO) will be a probe for the discovery and investigation of extrasolar planets with a focus on earth-like planets in the habitable zone around sun-like stars.
    2028 ARIEL With the Ariel space observatory, acronym for Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-Survey Mission, around 1,000 extrasolar planets are to be observed over a period of four years, and their atmosphere in particular will be investigated
    2028 Comet Interceptor The Comet Interceptor is to be launched together with ARIEL and parked at Lagrange point L 2 of the earth-moon system. As soon as an opportunity arises, he should fly from there to a new comet or an interstellar object and examine it.

    Proposed projects

    For these projects it is still unclear whether they should really be started in this form.
    year description description
    2026 Heracles Moon lander and rover; Sample return mission to the Schrödinger crater , together with the Japanese and Canadian space agencies.
    2031 ATHENA This mission is intended to be the successor to the XMM Newton mission. It consists of two elements flying in formation, the detector and the mirror. It is supposed to go in search of the first black holes .
    2034 LISA Gravitational waves are to be detected with these detectors . For this purpose, the distance between three detectors flying in formation is precisely measured. This distance should change due to incoming gravitational waves.
    Tandem Mission to the Saturn moons Titan and Enceladus. An orbiter space probe is proposed, which should carry a balloon and a lander with it.

    Unrealized projects

    year description description
    2014 ESMO ESMO was supposed to be a lunar probe co-developed by students.
    after 2015 Darwin Darwin would have been a telescope consisting of four (originally planned eight) individual satellites, which should find Earth-like planets and also analyze their atmosphere.
    2018 XEUS This mission would have been the successor to the XMM Newton mission. It should have consisted of two elements flying in formation, the detector and the mirror. XEUS should start looking for the first black holes . Replaced by ATHENA.

    Projects with setbacks

    year description description
    1977 GEOS 1 Measurements of the earth's magnetosphere were planned in the GEO , but stranded in an elliptical orbit due to a launcher error and could only achieve part of the goals. GEOS 2 worked according to plan
    1985 ECS 3 ECS 3 was lost along with another satellite when the third stage of Ariane 3 failed to ignite. A replacement has started.
    1996 Cluster (satellite) The Ariane 5 took off on its maiden flight on June 4, 1996. After exactly 36.7 seconds, the rocket blew itself up with its payload, the four cluster satellites, after it began to break apart due to the aerodynamic loads of an extreme change of course. Four replacement satellites are successfully in use.
    2005 CryoSat The Cryosat satellite was equipped with an altitude radar to measure the thickness of the polar ice sheet. However, the satellite failed to reach orbit due to a failure of the launcher. With CryoSat-2 , a replacement was successfully sent into space in 2010.

    SSA program

    With the Space Situational Awareness Program, ESA operates a program for monitoring space. It is intended to recognize possible dangers at an early stage and to prevent or mitigate possible damage. It has three parts:

    • Monitoring of satellite orbits and space debris
    • Monitoring of near-earth objects such as asteroids on their orbit through space. The data on near-earth objects are published.
    • Monitoring space weather . This enables satellite operators to take countermeasures.
    ESA headquarters in Paris

    Application satellites

    The EUMETSAT headquarters in Darmstadt

    ESA develops application satellites. As a rule, after a test phase, their operation is handed over to the independent company established for the respective satellite program, as soon as it is able to do so. Examples are Eutelsat for the ECS satellites and Meteosat for the weather satellites. However, today's Eutelsat satellites (unlike the weather satellites) are no longer developed in cooperation with ESA.

    public relation

    From November 2010 to June 2014, ESA published the podcast series Raumzeit in cooperation with DLR . The podcast will be moderated by Tim Pritlove , a member of the DLR and ESA staff, and interviewed on the various topics and tasks involved. In addition, the so-called ESA KIDS platform has been online since May 2011 . There children and young people can find out more about the European Space Agency.

    In addition, ESA employees promoted support for projects such as the " Moon Village " in several lectures at the 33rd  C3 Congress of the Chaos Computer Club in December 2016 .

    See also


    • Thomas Hoerber, Paul Stephenson: European Space Policy: European integration and the final frontier. Routledge, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-138-03903-2 .
    • Christophe Venet: L'Europe dans les étoiles. La relation franco-allemande dans le spatial, in: Documents - Documents. Journal for the Franco-German Dialogue, volume 3. Verlag Documents, Bonn 2012 ISSN  0012-5172 pp. 32–36 (French)
    • Marcel Dickow: The EU's space policy. Civilian flagships and options for the CSDP. In: SWP Studies 2011, October 2011, p. 26 ff
    • Andrew Wilson: ESA Achievements , 3rd edition. ESA Publications Division, Noordwijk 2005, ISSN  0250-1589
    • ESA History Advisory Committee: A history of the European Space Agency 1958–1987 (ESA special publication 1235). European Space Agency 2001, ISBN 92-9092-536-1 , ISSN  1609-042X ( Vol. 1 (PDF; 3.2 MB), Vol. 2 ; PDF; 5.2 MB)
    • Rüdiger von Preuschen: The European Space Agency, in International and Comparative Law Quarterly 27, 1978, pp. 46-60

    Web links

    Wiktionary: ESA  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : European Space Agency  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
     Wikinews: ESA  - in the news

    Individual evidence

    1. European Space Agency (ed.): Convention and Rules of Procedure of the Council of the ESA . December 2010, p. 126 , Annex I, Resolution No. 8: Use of Languages, Item 2 ( [PDF; accessed January 3, 2019]).
    2. ESA budget 2020 on , accessed on April 6, 2020.
    3. The ESA: Facts and Figures. ESA, accessed May 29, 2021 .
    4. Council resolution OJ 2000, C 371/2
    5. ^ Oppermann / Classen / Netteshein, Europarecht, 4th edition. Munich 2009, p. 637, Rn. 22
    6. Josef Aschbacher is the new ESA Director General. ESA, March 1, 2021, accessed March 1, 2021 .
    7. A European Vision. In: European Space Agency, archived from the original on August 19, 2007 ; accessed on July 20, 2016 .
    8. ^ A b The ESA Convention
    9. Federal Law Gazette 1976 II p. 1861
    10. Federal Law Gazette 1981 II p. 371
    11. a b 30 years of ESA - Europe's space travel on the road to success , May 31, 2005, accessed on February 9, 2011.
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    Coordinates: 48 ° 50 ′ 53.2 "  N , 2 ° 18 ′ 15.8"  E