Beyond the fringe: Edinburgh’s final frontier

Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan and ESA astronaut Claud
Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan and ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier
4 December 2001

A UK city has become the first-ever to be awarded the title of ‘European Space City’ by the European Space Agency.

"The award has been created to honour cities for their exceptional contributions to European space activities," said ESA spokesperson Franco Bonacina. "We’re developing a European-wide network of such cities and are delighted to make the first award to Edinburgh."

Donald Anderson, the leader of the City of Edinburgh Council called it 'a great accolade' reflecting the city’s 'proud record' in the sciences. "We look forward to honouring the prestigious title of European Space City and, through that, bringing the work of ESA to a wider audience," he said.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh received the award officially from ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier. During his recent visit, Claude, a veteran of four space flights and two space walks, returned the city’s official Kinloch Anderson tartan which had been on the August Space Shuttle mission. The silk, which is now in the City Chambers, travelled 4.9 million miles, orbiting the earth 186 times. To complete the set, the Scottish flag will be aboard next February’s Space Shuttle mission and will afterwards be presented to the Scottish Executive.

Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan and ESA astronaut Claud
Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan and ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier

Claude also met some schoolchildren and soon you could be seeing the work of Edinburgh’s finest young minds on this web-site. ESA hopes to enlist their help to produce pages about the Agency’s work suitable for teenagers.

In November, the Scottish capital hosted ESA’s ministerial conference, a key event bringing together the governments of all 16 of ESA’s member nations and the city was, until recently, home to ESA’s full-size model of Envisat, the world’s largest, most sophisticated Earth observation satellite. The 11m long model (the real thing is to be launched next year) was just one of many events and attractions for space enthusiasts of all ages over recent months.

In January, as part of the Frontiers series of Edinburgh lectures, another ESA astronaut Reinhold Ewald will talk about life on a space station. Also present will be the voices of colleagues aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above the earth.

Other Edinburgh lecturers include Colin Hicks, the director general of the British National Space Centre looking at how we depend on space-based systems and Colin Pillinger, professor of planetary sciences at the Open University talking about the search for life on Mars. For details visit www.edinburghlectures.org.

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