ESA Turns 30! A Successful Track Record For Europe In Space
On 31 May 2005, the European Space Agency, whose Member States pool their resources to pursue common goals for space utilisation and research, turned 30. Thanks to an impressive mission record, the Agency has placed Europe and European industry at the forefront of space activities around the world.
Yet, when it all started, a European success story in terms of space activities seemed far away. The world was divided up by the two superpowers into spheres of influence in which the Soviet Union and the United States respectively sought to exploit their near-unassailable lead role, as much politically as militarily, both here on Earth and in space.
However, in recent decades, in many areas of space research and utilisation, Europe has managed not only to make up ground but has actually managed to catch up with these space giants and is today an acknowledged partner for both.
Moreover, the Agency now reflects Europe's ranking as one of the world's top space-faring pioneers � notably in space science, Earth observation, telecommunications and launchers.
"ESA came into being on 31 May 1975, following in the footsteps of its two parent organisations, ESRO and ELDO, and has now turned 30. What an achievement! In such a short time, ESA has grown to become one of the foremost space agencies in the world. International cooperation - first among the Member States themselves and then with other space-faring nations - has been the key to this success story," says ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.
"I am particularly honoured and proud to be the Director General of the Agency today, as we celebrate its 30th birthday, in a year which has already produced a number of spectacular successes - Huygens landing on Titan, the launch of the new-version Ariane 5, the Eneide mission to the International Space Station - to name just a few of the most striking highlights."
"And for all these achievements, thanks are due to its Member States, to all the ESA staff, contractors and all those who, in national space authorities and in industry all over Europe, ever since the pioneering days of the 1960s, have believed in ESA and have dedicated time and effort to contributing to its growth. And there is still such a lot that all of us working together can accomplish in future".
In the light of 30 years of continuing success, ESA is stepping up its cooperation with the European Union in order to place the European space sector at the service of EU policies and Europe's citizens.
This cooperation will further consolidate the joint European space effort and thus give it a sustained international competitive edge. The European space policy is being integrated within the wider ambitions of Europe.
Particularly in the areas of transport, the environment, security, agriculture and technology, space is becoming an important strand of European policy and is gearing itself up to respond to the needs of Europe�s citizens.
With European countries increasingly acting in concert, space activity is set to become a much larger and more integrated undertaking in future, with ESA adapting to take on an even greater role for Europe.
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ESA - The First 30 Years
Noordwijk, The Netherlands (ESA) June 1, 2005
Of the 1454 people working at ESA when it began on 31 May 1975, 206 are still working for the Agency. Recently the ESA Portal spoke to two of them to hear about life at ESA during the past 30 years.
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