The 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. The countries involved are: Austria, 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.
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.
ESA'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.