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N° 2–2014: ESA activities in 2014 of interest to media

16 January 2014

Expected key events of the year (check the ESA website’s media section at for updates)

Director General’s Annual Press Conference
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain will meet the press at the traditional start-of-year briefing on the activities and challenges for 2014.

Location: ESA-HQ Daumesnil, Paris (France)
Expected date: 17 January, 08:30–10:30 

Rosetta mission Press Conferences
A major scientific highlight of the year will be Rosetta, the first mission ever designed to rendezvous with, land on and escort a comet. Four major press conferences are planned in 2014: At the occasion of  Rosetta’s wake-up after a decade of deep space travelling; At the orbital insertion upon arrival at the comet; At the selection of the landing site on the comet; And at the landing of Rosetta’s Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. 

  • Wake-up Press Conference

Location: ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
Expected date: 20 January 

  • Rosetta’s arrival at comet 67P Press Conference

Location: ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
Expected date: August 

Images taken from 100 kilometres far from 67P (as close as never before) will be presented at a press conference in the new Rosetta Press Centre. On this occasion the Rosetta Press Centre will be operational for the first time, to provide media with information and updates. From this time onwards the press centre will be used to hold all Rosetta briefings. 

  • Selection of landing site Press Conference

Location: Rosetta Press Centre, ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
Expected date: October 

  • Rosetta landing Press Conference

Location: Rosetta Press Centre, ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany)
Expected date: 11 November 

Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) mission
IXV is a cornerstone for a wide range of applications in future space transportation, providing the expertise for developing future reentry craft. The launch will also demonstrate the flexibility and capabilities of the Vega launch system, putting a payload of two tonnes in the first equatorial, suborbital flight. Three press points of special interest: 

  • IXV media day

Location: TBD
Expected date: February 

  • Launch of IXV by Vega

Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)
Expected date: October 

  • IXV mission results

Location: ESA-HQ Daumesnil, Paris (France)
Expected date: November 

Result of Cosmic Vision M-class mission down-selection
ESA selected in February 2011 five candidates for a medium-class mission – M3 – for a launch opportunity in 2024 (EChO, LOFT, MarcoPolo-R, PLATO and STE-QUEST). The Science Programme Committee members will make their final decision on the M3 mission during their February meeting.

Location: Press release on
Expected date: 19–20 February 

Swarm: first data release
The newly launched Swarm satellites will deliver their first time series data of Earth’s magnetic field, in a 3D format.

Location: TBD
Expected date: March 

Launch of the first Sentinel satellite of Copernicus
The first Sentinel satellite is ready to be launched. This launch will start a new family of satellites in the Copernicus programme, an EU flagship programme to which the ESA Member States are contributors. The first mission (radar) will provide operational data for future services that will benefit the citizens of Europe, and it will also ensure data continuity for the many existing projects that have relied on data from ESA’s ERS and Envisat satellites.

Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)
Expected date: April 

Mission of ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst
Alexander Gerst is assigned to fly on the International Space Station, serving as a flight engineer for Expeditions 40 and 41. He will be the second astronaut out of the new generation selected in 2009. The mission name is Blue Dot. 

  • Launch

Location: Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Expected date: 28 May 

  • Landing

Location: Kazakhstan
Expected date: November

Launch of ATV Georges Lemaîtreon Ariane 5
The fifth and final ATV will perform its mission this year from June until reentry, currently scheduled for November. There will be no more ATVs but the technology will live on as part of the service module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, to be provided by ESA.

Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana) and ATV Control Centre, Toulouse (France)
Expected date: June

Aerobraking and end of Venus Express mission
After more than 10 years in orbit around Venus, the Venus Express mission will come to an end. Before the spacecraft runs out of fuel, it will be manoeuvred into the tenuous upper atmosphere of the planet, where it will conduct unique science while making engineering tests of aerobraking, potentially useful for future ESA missions. The mission will end as the spacecraft descends into denser atmospheric layers and burns up.

Location: TBD
Expected date: June

Launch of Galileo FOC satellites
Following the successful In-Orbit Validation (IOV) phase, 2014 will see the launch of the first satellites of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellites of the complete Galileo constellation, the first of the EU flagship programme. Six FOC satellites are planned to be launched this year, providing Galileo early services around the end of 2014.
Location: CSG, Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana)

Expected date: the first two satellites will be launched by Soyuz in the first half 2014, the following four satellites will follow in second half 2014

Planck: Delivery of dataset on the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background
After the publication in March 2013 of the most accurate image of our very early Universe dating back to the time when it was only
380 000 years old, Planck will deliver another exciting cosmology dataset in July 2014 based on the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background. These data could yield answers to long-standing questions about the birth and very earliest evolution of our Universe immediately after the Big Bang.

Location: TBD
Expected date: July

Launch of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti
Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the International Space Station for Expeditions 44 and 45. She will be the third astronaut out of the new generation selected in 2009, and the first woman of Italian nationality to go into space. The mission name is Futura. It is a mission of ASI, the Italian Space Agency.

Location: Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan; main event in Italy, in cooperation with ASI
Expected date: 30 November

The ESA Council at Ministerial Level

The Ministers in charge of space activities in the Member States and Canada will conduct a one-day Council meeting, where they will be invited to take decisions on Launchers, the International Space Station and the future of ESA including its relations with the European Union.

Location: Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Date: 2 December

ESA  Anniversary events: 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.

Several events will be organised to highlight Europe’s many achievements in space through ESA and its predecessors during the last five decades, and the prospects for the future, among which: 

  • High level Political events

Locations: ESA HQ and other ESA Establishments
Expected dates: TBC 

  • Industrial event

Location: Berlin (Germany)
Expected date: 19 May (on the eve of the ILA air and space show) 

  • Scientific event

Location: Geneva (Switzerland)
Expected date: 12 September

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It 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 with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

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