ESA was founded on April 15, 1975. Its mission is to increase the development of Europe’s space capability. Missions and researches aim to benefit the citizens of the world. ESA will be part of the jury at the Paris Space week 2020 for the innovation award.
ESA was not always known as what it is today. Europe went through some hard time before coming to an agreement. There were 2 European organizations dedicated to space discovering, ELDO and ESRO. ELDO’s convention was ratified in 1962 by Germany, Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK and entries into force in 1964, a month after ESRO. The main goal was the development and construction of spacecraft launchers intended for the needs of Europe and member states. The first European artificial satellite was launched by the UK in 1962.
After some disagreements and resignations of some members, the 2 organizations merged into one and became ESA in 1975. This merger increased the efficiency of the European effort by making the best use of human resources, technical and financial resources. They have developed a long-term European space policy, and therefore a common European program. There are 22 member states to this date.
ESA has been operating many missions, both operational and scientific, over the years. They collaborated with other organizations such as; NASA (USA), JAXA (Japan), ASI (Italy), DLR (Germany) and the CNSA (China); and with many European satellite operators like EUMETSAT, Eutelsat, and Inmarsat. In 1973, they developed Ariane, a series of European launch vehicles for space launch use, in collaboration with Airbus Defence and Space for the development and testing facilities.
During the 90’s, the Horizon2000 and the Horizon2000 Plus program were created, both aim to plan missions from 1995. Including the star mapping mission GAIA launched in 2013; HIPPARCOS, ISO, Ulysses developed with NASA and launched in 1990 (study of regions around the sun); Giotto, SOHO, the Hubble space telescope (NASA) and the BepiColombo mission to Mercury (2018).
All missions were successful, except for the first Cluster. Its launch rocket exploded which lead to its destruction. Another one was build and successfully fulfilled its mission in 2000.
ERS, a series of Satellite developed to collect different data on the surface of the oceans, land and the Earth's atmosphere, were launched in 1991 and 1995, the mission ended in 2011. In 1995, the Meteosat series of satellites were launched. They send many digital images of the earth’s surface and other data. Those allow meteorologists to process meteorological reports from observations of high pressure, atmospheric depressions, cloud masses etc.
In 2008, following an agreement with the European Commission, they developed a space infrastructure as part of an earth surveillance program focused on the environment the atmosphere, oceans, land monitoring and safety, called Sentinel. It is a series of satellites orbiting the planet. The first one was launched in 2014 and last one in 2018. They are all still operating. The next one will be launched in 2020, 5 others will be launched in 2021 and one in 2029.
In 2016 the EU and GSA launched the global navigation satellite, Galileo. The €10 billion project benefits Europeans in order to have their own positioning system data, so that they would not have to rely on the American data.
Today, the Cosmic Vision program plans missions for the long-term (2015-2025). The goal is to know more about astronomy, astrophysics and the Solar System. Learn about the formation of our planet and how life emerged. But also, learn about how the system solar works, how the universe originate and the fundamental physical laws of the universe.■
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