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European Space Agency

developed research organization satellites

European Space Agency (ESA), research and exploration agency for nations of Western Europe, formed 1975 by the merger of the European Launcher Development Organization and the European Space Research Organization. ESA develops satellites and instruments for exploration, designs experiments, and collects data. The agency developed the Ariane rocket, a commercial research vehicle that has put many satellites into orbit under the auspices of Arianespace, a private organization formed by ESA. The agency also developed Spacelab, first carried into orbit by the space shuttle Columbia (1983), and sent the Giotto probe to fly by Halley's comet (1985). The members contribute funds to the agency according to their support of various projects. In 1997 the Ariane 5 was successfully launched from the base in French Guiana. A manned unit, Columbus, is currently being developed for a future international space station.

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