ESA facts and figures (from the official ESA site)
What is ESA?
The European Space Agency 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.
ESA has 15 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. The Agency's projects are designed to find out more about the Earth, its immediate space environment, the 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 to share the benefits of space with the whole of mankind.
Who belongs to ESA?
ESA's 15 Member States are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Greece and Luxembourg are expected to become members of ESA in 2004. In addition, Canada and Hungary participate in some projects under cooperation agreements.
As can be seen from this list, not all member countries of the European Union are members of ESA and not all ESA Member States are members of the EU. ESA is an entirely independent organisation although it maintains close ties with the EU through an ESA/EC Framework Agreement. The two organisations share a joint European strategy for space and together are developing a European space policy.
Paris, 14 July 2003
Paris, France - MERIS, 14 July 2003
Where is ESA located?
ESA has its headquarters in Paris and it is here that policies and programmes are decided upon. However, ESA also has centres in Europe, each of which has different responsibilities.
* ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, is the design hub for most ESA spacecraft and technology development, and is situated in Noordwijk, the Netherlands
* ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, is responsible for controlling ESA satellites in orbit and is situated in Darmstadt, Germany
* EAC, the European Astronauts Centre, trains astronauts for future missions and is situated in Cologne, Germany
* ESRIN, the European Space Research Institute, is based in Frascati, near Rome in Italy. Its responsibilities include collecting, storing and distributing satellite data to ESA's partners, and acting as the Agency's information technology centre
In addition, ESA has liaison offices in Belgium, the United States and Russia; a launch base in French Guiana; and ground and tracking stations in various areas of the world.
Control Room at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany
How many people work for ESA?
In 2003 the total number of staff working for ESA numbered approximately 1920. These highly qualified people come from all the Member States and include scientists, engineers, information technology specialists and administrative personnel.
Where do ESA's funds come from?
ESA's mandatory activities (space science programmes and the general budget) are funded by a financial contribution from all the Agency's Member States, calculated in accordance with each country's gross national product. In addition, ESA conducts a number of optional programmes. Individual country decides in which optional programme they wish to participate and the amount of their contribution.
How big is ESA's budget?
In 2003 the budget was €2700 million. ESA operates on the basis of geographical return, i.e. it invests in each Member State, through industrial contracts for space programmes, an amount more or less equivalent to each country's contribution.
How much does each European spend on ESA?
European per capita investment in space is very little. On average, every citizen of an ESA Member State pays, in taxes for expenditure on space, about the same as the price of a cinema ticket. In the United States, investment in civilian space activities is almost four times as much.
How does ESA operate?
The ESA Council is the Agency's governing body and provides the basic policy guidelines within which the Agency develops the European space programme. Each Member State is represented on the Council and has one vote, regardless of its size or financial contribution.
The agency is headed by a Director General, elected by the Council every four years. Each individual research sector has its own Directorate that reports to the Director General. The present Director General of ESA is Jean-Jacques Dordain.
European Space Agency
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Tel: + 33 1 5369 7155
Fax: + 33 1 5369 7690
Last update: 9 August 2004