The European Space Agency, in English "European Space Agency" and in German "Europäische Weltraumorganisation", most often referred to by its acronym ESA, is an intergovernmental space agency coordinating space projects carried out jointly by twenty European countries.
The European Space Agency is the third largest in the world after NASA (USA) and the Chinese National Space Administration. It was founded on May 31, 1975.
Its activities cover the entire civil space domain:
- sciences (particularly astrophysics, exploration of the Solar System, study of the Sun and fundamental physics);
- the study and observation of the Earth by specialized satellites;
- the development of launchers;
- human spaceflight through its participation in the International Space Station and Orion;
- satellite navigation by the Galileo programme;
- space telecommunications for which the Agency funds the development of new concepts
- and research in space technologies.