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N° 4–2014: French space agency President visits ESA’s largest establishment in the Netherlands

21 January 2014

Today Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the French space agency CNES, visited the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, ESA’s largest establishment in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

He was welcomed by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and by other ESA Directors and senior managers for presentations and an extensive tour of the facilities.

ESA has sites in several European countries; ESA/ESTEC is the largest and is the technical heart of the Agency, the incubator of the European space effort, where most ESA projects are born and where they are guided through the various phases of development. Staff from ESA’s 20 Member States and contractors at ESA/ESTEC are involved in science, exploration, telecommunications, human spaceflight, satellite navigation and Earth observation.

The establishment hosts one of the largest test centres for spacecraft in the world as well as highly specialised laboratories for system engineering, components and materials, working with a network of other facilities and labs throughout Europe.

During the visits, ESA and CNES could discuss of current and future cooperation. ESA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said: “We are very pleased to welcome the President of CNES here to our technical heart. CNES is one of the largest contributors to ESA and also  ESA’s partner for many of its programmes, in Science, Telecommunications, Earth Observation and Human Spaceflight, as well as a source of management and technical expertise which reinforces the capacities of ESA”.

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall added:"It was a great pleasure for me to visit ESTEC, one of the world's foremost space engineering centres. This visit gave us the opportunity to recall the longstanding and constructive ties between ESA and CNES and the programmes we have accomplished together, and to look ahead to the major challenges that await us, especially this year, which will be a decisive one for the future of spacefaring Europe."

At the end of his visit, Mr Le Gall was able to meet and greet French senior staff working at ESA/ESTEC.

1964-2014: 50 years serving European Cooperation and Innovation

In 1964, the Conventions of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) entered into force. A little more than a decade later, the European Space Agency (ESA) was established, taking over from these two organisations.

2014 will be dedicated to addressing the future in the light of these 50 years of unique achievements in space, which have put ESA among the leading space agencies in the world.

The motto 'serving European cooperation and innovation' underlines how much ESA, together with the national delegations from its 20 Member States, space industry, the scientific community and more recently the EU, has made a difference for Europe and its citizens.

Fifty years of European cooperation in space is an anniversary for the whole space sector in Europe, which can be proud of its results and achievements. It is a testimony that when Member States share the same challenging objectives and join forces, Europe is at the leading edge of progress, innovation and growth, for the benefit of all citizens.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working actively with the EU, for the implementation of the programmes Galileo and Copernicus.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office


Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99