The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,200 in 2018 and an annual budget of about €6.68 billion in 2020.
ESA's space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion Spacecraft service module that will fly on the Space Launch System.
The agency's facilities are distributed among the following centres:
- ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands;
- Earth Observation missions at ESA Centre for Earth Observation in Frascati, Italy;
- ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany;
- the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany;
- the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), a research institute created in 2009, is located in Harwell, England;
- and the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain.
The European Space Agency Science Program is a long-term program of space science and space exploration missions.
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