European Space Agency

ESA is an international organisation which was formed out of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) and the European Launchers Development Organization. The basic act of ESA is the Convention for the establishment of a European Space Agency, signed on 30th May 1975, in Paris. More info:

The purpose of the 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;
  • elaborating and implementing activities and programmes in the space field;
  • 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;
  • elaborating and implementing the industrial policy appropriate to its programme and by recommending a coherent industrial policy to the Member States. ESA ensures the implementation of research projects by its industrial policy into the real user environment, and serves as a major implementation agency for strengthening the scientific and industrial cooperation among the Member States of ESA, but also between ESA and third countries, in the area of space and space activities.

Nowadays ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the 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. The Czech Republic became a full member of ESA on 12th November 2008.

Headquarters of ESA and its centres

ESA’s headquarters are located in Paris, where the policies and programmes are decided. ESA also has five sites in a number of European countries, each of which has different responsibilities:

1.    ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, the Netherlands: it is the largest centre of ESA. It is a test centre and hub for European space activities. ESTEC is responsible for technical preparation and management of space projects of ESA.
2.    ESRIN, the ESA centre for Earth Observation, in Frascati, near Rome, Italy: this centre controls, in particular ground segment for satellites used for Earth observation and it keeps the biggest archive of data about the environment in Europe.
3.    ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany: this centre ensures the activity of space objects in orbit.
4.    EAC, the European Astronauts Centre in Cologne, Germany: it is a centre of excellence for astronaut selection, training, medical support and surveillance.
5.    ESAC, the European Space Astronomy Centre, in Villanueva de la Canada, Madrid, Spain: it hosts the science operation centre for all ESA astronomy and planetary missions together with their scientific archives.
Apart from the centres mentioned above, ESA also has the European Spaceport in Guyana (Guyana Space Centre – GSC).

Plan for European Cooperating States  (PECS)

Special form of cooperation with ESA represents PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States). This program is aimed at non-member states of ESA, in particular from Central and Eastern Europe. It should facilitate cooperation in space programmes. The main purpose of PECS is to provide to such states a possibility to join current programmes of ESA.

The Czech Republic and ESA

The Czech Republic presented its interest to cooperate with ESA in 90s of 20th century. The cooperation framework has been as following:

  • §   Agreement between the Government of the Czech Republic and the European Space Agency Concerning Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes – Communication of Ministry of Foreign Affairs No. 307/1998 Coll., signed on 7th November 1996.
  • European Cooperating State Agreement between the European Space Agency and the Government of the Czech Republic – Communication of Ministry of Foreign Affairs No. 111/2005 Coll. of International Agreements, signed on 24th November 2003 and entered into force on 19th November 2004.
  • Document Programme of the European Cooperating State No. 112/2005 Coll., signed on the 24th November 2003 and entered into force on 24th November 2004.
  • The Convention for the establishment of a European Space Agency, signed on 30th May 1975, in Paris which was signed by the Czech Republic on 24th October 2008 and entered into force on 12th November 2008, No. 92/2009 Coll.
  • Agreement between the Czech Republic and the European Space Agency concerning the accession of the Czech Republic to the Convention for the establishment of ESA and related terms and conditions – Communication of Ministry of Foreign Affairs No. 93/2009 Coll. of International Agreements
  • Agreement between ESA and the European Union on security and exchange of secret information No. 36/2009 Coll., signed on 18th July 2008 in Brussels and which entered into force for the Czech Republic by accession to ESA.