History: ESA Convention, 1975
The ESA Convention was signed in Paris on 30 May 1975 by the nine original Member States (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). It entered into force on 30 October 1980 with the deposit of the last instrument of ratification by France, in accordance with its Article XXI, 1.
The idea of creating an independent space organisation in Europe dated back to the early 1960s when six European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK – formed the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) to develop and build a heavy launcher called ‘Europa’. In 1962, those same countries, plus Denmark, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, formed the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) to undertake mainly scientific satellite programmes.
In 1975, a convention was concluded at diplomatic and ministerial level to set up one ‘European Space Agency’, effectively merging ESRO and ELDO, and broadening the scope of the agency’s remit to include operational space applications systems, such as telecommunications satellites.