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European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is an inter-governmental organization dedicated to exploration of space and its exploitation. Its Headquarters are in Paris, France. It is responsible for the development of the Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 satellite launcher.

The precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organization) was established on March 20, 1964 per an agreement signed on June 14, 1962. Today this is still a part of ESA, now called ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre). It is based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

The ESA consists of fifteen member states: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Its projects include:

The ESA is also sponsoring the Keo satellite, which will carry messages addressed to future earthlings and will come back to Earth in the year 52006

The ESA has also collaborated with NASA on several missions:

The ESA has a staff of about 1,700. Its 1999 budget was 2,650.8 million euros.

The ESA's spaceport (its launch site) is in Kourou, French Guiana, a site chosen because it is close to the equator.

See also

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