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.
Its projects include:
- Galileo positioning system - a proposed satellite positioning system
- Mars Express - a space probe to Mars
- Rosetta - a planned space mission to land on a comet
- Columbus orbital facility - a science laboratory that is part of the ISS
- ATV - an Automated Transfer vehicle, i.e. a space freighter comparable to Progress for the ISS
- Hipparcos - a space-based astrometry mission
- Smart 1 - testing new propulsion technology
The ESA has also collaborated with NASA on several missions: