From the beginnings of the Space Age, Europe has been actively involved in spaceflight. 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.
Space is a key asset for Europe, providing essential information needed by decision-makers to respond to global challenges. Space provides indispensable technologies and services, and increases our understanding of our planet and the Universe. Since 1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has been shaping the development of this space capability and ensuring that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
By pooling the resources of 22 Member States, ESA undertakes programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. ESA programmes are designed to find out more about Earth, its immediate space environment, our Solar System and the Universe, as well as to develop satellite-based technologies and services, and to promote European industries. ESA also work closely with space organisations outside Europe.
ESA’s technology activities are implemented through several ESA preparatory Programmes. The Technology Development Element (TDE), the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) and the Telecom/ARTES programmes account for about three quarters of all Technology R&D conducted in ESA - compare the picture above.