ESA was awarded this month the prestigious Alexandre Koyré Medal by the International Academy of the History of Science, for work done in the ESA History Project.
Two volumes of the History of the European Space Agency are the culmination of over a decade of work, an initiative by three professional historians of science to write an independent academic history of ESA and its predecessor organisations: ESRO and ELDO.
Since its feasibility study in 1990, the History project has produced more than 20 reports in a dedicated ESA History Report series, and there have been a number of presentations, seminars and publications in specialised literature.
The project has been led by Prof. John Krige and Profs. Arturo Russo (University of Palermo) and Michelangelo de Maria (University of Rome). The latter left the project in 1993 and his tasks were continued by Dr Lorenza Sebesta (University of Bologna). Their work supported by an eminent advisory committee of ESA pioneers, including Reimar Lüst, Michel Bignier, Peter Creola, George van Reeth) and outstanding European historians.
The project traces the history of the European collaborative space programme from its beginnings in the late 1950s to the creation of a single space agency in the early 1970s and up to recent developments, in the light of its main actors and policies.
Established in 1927, the International Academy of the History of Science has been presenting the Koyré medal once every two years since 1968. The 2009 medal will be presented to the Director General of ESA at a ceremony in September in Paris.