On her official visit to the Netherlands on 3 May, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, included a visit to ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centere (ESTEC). She was warmly welcomed by ESA Directors and Irish staff working on site.
Mary McAleese was welcomed by Franco Ongaro, Head of Establishment at ESTEC and Director of Technical and Quality Management (D/TEC), and Directors Magali Vaissière (D/TIA) and Thomas Reiter (D/HSO), who gave a general presentation of ESA and highlighted Irish involvement. Franco Ongaro said that, "Ireland is among our founding Member States, and as such is involved in strategic decisions, in the implementation of Agency programmes and activities and in the way the Agency and the European Space Policy will evolve in the future."
During her brief visit, the President was taken on a tour of the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), the Test Centre and the Erasmus Centre. Thomas Reiter also showed her a training model of the Columbus module of the ISS.
Towards the end of the visit, the President greeted the 40 Irish staff and contractors working at ESTEC and concluded by saying, "I am impressed with what I have seen, and you should all be very proud of what you do to prepare the future for our children and grandchildren."
The President and her husband Dr McAleese then signed ESA's golden book and wrote, "Take us all with you on your journey to the future!"