Europe’s space hub is opening gates to public

14 September 2012

A rare chance is coming to glimpse the inner workings of Europe’s space activities. The largest space centre on the continent is opening its gates to the general public on 7 October, its first full-scale Open Day for nearly two decades.

ESTEC, the European Space Research & Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is ESA’s single largest establishment and the hub of space activities in Europe.

This unique site will be open to the public from 10:00 to 16:00 on Sunday 7 October (with the last chance to enter at 15:00). ESTEC’s neighbouring visitor centre, Space Expo, will also be participating.

Nestled beside North Sea sand dunes, ESTEC is the technical heart of ESA, where the majority of European space projects are born, developed and tested in advance of their flights into orbit.

Visitors at the ESTEC Test Centre
1993 Open Day

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the decision to place ESTEC in the Netherlands.

ESTEC is also the usual work place of Dutch astronaut André Kuipers, when he’s not aboard the International Space Station or training in the European Astronaut Centre.

Visitors will be able to tour through ESTEC along a dedicated route to see what happens there.

André Kuipers waves from the Space Station
André on ISS

ESTEC’s Erasmus facility will also be open to visitors. Serving to guide European researchers designing science experiments for weightlessness, Erasmus includes full-size mock-ups of Space Station modules as well as historic hardware that has flown in space.

Presentations and videos on space projects will be given throughout the day, and experts will be on hand to answer questions.

Various special guests will also be attending – including André Kuipers himself.

Columbus Orbital Facility simulator

Visitors will need to register via the right-hand link. This will help us to prepare a better experience for all. Children are welcome, though they must be accompanied at all times.

Special activities for children have been prepared with partners, including the NEMO Amsterdam science museum and ESTEC’s neighbouring visitor centre, Space Expo.

It will not be possible to bring pets within the site. There may be further security measures applied to the Open Day, but these will be announced in advance.

There will be no onsite parking available. Please come by bicycle or bus instead or use the shuttle buses from remote parking areas (details to follow).

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