History: New Members of ESA, 1985
New Members of ESA, 1985: On 12 December 1985 at ESA Headquarters in Paris, agreements were signed leading to the full memberships of Austria and Norway in 1987.
Even though Austria was a founding member of COPERS, it did not become a full member of ESRO at its foundation in 1964. ESRO representatives were invited in 1972 to present the organisation to an Interministerial Commission in Austria. Austria’s reaction was positive and the government set up the Austrian Space Agency (ASA) in 1972 to manage the build-up of potential and capacities for a possible Austrian participation in Europe’s space programme.
Austria’s associate membership in ESA was recommended in May 1975, but it was not until October 1977 that Austria stated that it was ready for negotiations to become an associate member. On 17 October 1979, after intensive negotiations between ESA and the Austrian government, the Federal Republic of Austria signed an association agreement with ESA for five years.
In November 1981, a team was formed to work out a concept for Austria’s future participation in space research. One of the main recommendations was that Austria should consider becoming a full member of ESA after termination of the association agreement in March 1986.
Austria intensified negotiations with ESA in 1985 and it was agreed to extend the association until Austria became a full member on 1 January 1987. This agreement was signed by Heinz Fischer, the Austrian Federal Minister of Science and Research, on 12 December 1985 at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France.
At the same event, Petter Thomassen, the Norwegian Minister of Industry also signed the membership agreement between Norway and ESA. The process for Norway to become a full ESA member had started in 1976.
Remote sensing was a central field of space application for Norway, especially for the surveillance of its large sea territory, and this was coupled with its changed industrial policy from the late 1970s with emphasis on technological innovation.
Norway signed an association agreement with ESA in April 1981, with its Ministry of Industry maintaining the initiative and widening the interest in satellite surveillance and industrial growth through space technology development.
A Norwegian government committee was appointed in 1982 to advise on a national programme for satellite remote sensing. The commission’s recommendations were that Norway should join ESA’s ERS programme and should carry out the upgrading of the Tramse Telemetry Station as a ground station for the ERS satellites.
The committee advised that Norway should join ESA as a full member when the transitional phase of associate membership lapsed. Norway entered into negotiations with ESA and, after signing the agreement in 1985, also became a full ESA Member on 1 January 1987.