European Space Agency
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 people of Europe.
ESA has 15 Member States and 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. Its task is to draw up the European
space plan (for example in manned space flight, earth
observation, communications, science, technology etc)
and carry it through.
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. Canada has special status and participates in
some projects under a cooperation agreement
The benefits of space exploration are not confined to
scientists, engineers and astronauts. Space exploration
also helps to improve daily lives. For instance, Europe's
space programme has helped to keep Europe at the forefront
of scientific discovery on our Solar System and the Universe.
This research has also led to breakthroughs in other scientific
areas. Many of the scientific discoveries that are making
our lives healthier and longer originated in space research
- for example, recent advances in detecting cancers and
new treatments for heart disease. Developments in space
technology can also be adapted for other uses. One example
is the flame-resistant textiles used for protective clothing
which are the result of research to protect electric circuits
in rockets. The space industry benefits from the award
of ESA contracts and also puts the technical experience
gained from taking part in ESA's programmes to other uses.
More about ESA can be found at: www.esa.int