The European Space Agency (ESA) is an organization made up of 22 European states, based in Paris, dedicated to space exploration.

Participation of European countries

ESA is made up of  twenty two member states.

Member States Compulsory contribution Optional contribution Total (€ million) Total (%)

After several European countries started, since 1962, various activities and projects in the field of space research, they decided to unify efforts.

With this objective in mind, they established, on May 31, 1975, the European Space Agency (ESA), which currently employs around 1,900 people and has an annual budget of around 3,600 million euros.

ESA structures are highly decentralized.

  • The scientific operations base is located in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands (in South Holland).
  • The Earth observation missions are based in Frascati, Italy.
  • Mission control is located in Darmstadt, Germany.
  • The European Astronaut Center is located in Cologne, Germany.
  • The European Center for Space Astronomy is installed in Villanueva de la Cañada, Community of Madrid, Spain.

In the next few years, it is likely that many of the countries that joined the European Union, after the 2004 enlargement, will also become part of ESA.

Projects developed by ESA

The launch site for ESA’s Ariane vehicles is the Kourou Spaceport, located in French Guiana.

Mars Express
ESA Mars Express probe. Credit: web “”

NASA officially announced in January 2013 its participation in ESA’s Euclid mission, a space telescope that will be launched into orbit in 2020 and is designed to investigate the mysterious nature of matter and dark energy.

Dark matter is invisible, but its gravitational pull is slowing the expansion of the Universe.

Dark energy, however, seems to be speeding it up. These two mysterious components are postulated to constitute more than 95% of the mass and total energy of the Universe. But what they really are remains a mystery.