2012 was a very busy and fruitful year for ESA. This video looks back at this year in space with an overview of ESA missions and events.
In particular, 2012 will remain a historic year for European launchers, because it saw the successful qualification flight of ESA's Vega launcher and the birth of Ariane 6, which was agreed at the Ministerial Council in November. Three types of launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana: Ariane 5, Soyuz and then the Vega, completing the full range of European launch services and capabilities.
ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers was the latest European to stay on the International Space Station. During his six-month stay from December 2011 to July 2012, he oversaw the docking of ESA's third supply spacecraft, ATV Edoardo Amaldi, to the Station.
The year was also important for Europe's Galileo global navigation satellite system, when the third and fourth satellites were launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana in October. They join the first pair of satellites launched a year ago to complete the validation phase of the Galileo programme.
In November, ministers from ESA’s 20 Member States and Canada met and allocated the budget for ESA’s space activities and programmes for the years to come. Along with the new Ariane 6 launcher, they secured investments for the development of Ariane 5 ME and also gave the green light for Europe to provide the service module of NASA’s new Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle.
This decision is strategically important for Europe as it will enable a cooperation between ESA and NASA on future human space transportation.