European Parliament celebrates 50 years of European cooperation in space

Franco Ongaro
2 April 2014

An exhibition celebrating 50 years of European cooperation in space was inaugurated at the European Parliament in Brussels on 1 April by Mr Ioannis Tsoukalas MEP.

Mr Tsoukalas, Professor Emeritus at the University of Thessaloniki and a former Greek government official, said: “I am particularly proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of European cooperation in Space here at the Parliament during the Greek presidency of the EU council. This is a celebration for the entire European space sector, which can be proud of its many successes. This anniversary illustrates that when Member States share ambitious goals and join forces, Europe is at the forefront of progress, innovation and growth for the benefit of all its citizens.”

The event took place in the presence of Commissioners Damanaki and Vassiliou and some 100 guests from the European Parliament, representatives of Member States, associations from European industry, international partners and European institutions.

Franco Ongaro, ESA Director of Technology and Quality Management, illustrated the motto ‘Serving European cooperation and innovation’ when he said, “Take, for example, Rosetta. On 20 January 2014, a new chapter in the odyssey of the Rosetta spacecraft was opened after a gruelling wait. Following a deep sleep of 31 months, the probe made contact with ESA. Sleeping beauty came out of hibernation. Rosetta will reach her asteroid in August this year.”

Mr René Oosterlinck and Mr Vittorio Prodi, MEP

Mr Ongaro’s colleague, Mr René Oosterlinck, former ESA Director of Navigation and long-time ESA staff member, recalled the time when he inaugurated the Galileo In-Orbit Testing Facilities at Redu, Belgium, in 2010. After some challenging times, and thanks to the European Parliament’s strong support of the programme, Mr Oosterlinck was more than glad to see Galileo, a truly European programme, entering its operational phase.

Next, ESA astronaut Léopold Éyharts reminded the audience that, based on his own experience, space is also a unique environment for scientific experiments, many of which cannot be performed anywhere else. During his mission to the International Space Station in 2008 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, he helped to install the European Columbus laboratory and was also the first to enter this laboratory.

Mr Dimitris Sioufas and Mr Ioannis Tsoukalas, MEP

Mr Vittorio Prodi MEP, chairman of the Sky and Space intergroup, followed by explaining the importance of Earth observation from space, saying: “With its wide range of parameters measurable from orbit, with high accuracy and precision, it is clear to me that the Copernicus programme provides the ideal infrastructure to monitor our Earth and to serve EU ambitions on climate and environment policies. I am looking forward to watching the launch of Sentinel-1 from Kourou on 3 April.”

Mr Dimitris Sioufas, former Greek Minister for Development, gave the concluding remarks. Mr Sioufas had signed the accession to the ESA Convention in 2004.

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