National and International Aerospace Programs


Although some countries in Europe have a highly developed scientific and technological sector for their historic political and economic rivalries none of them could have developed an aerospace sector that would play a significant role on the global scale.  Creation of  community of European countries has inevitably followed by the unification of the aerospace sector, profiled in Airbus and  the European Space Agency (ESA), to be important factor globally.

ESA (European Space Agency)


 After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled “The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS)”. Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to co-operate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.  Many countries, most of which joined the EU in both 2004 and 2007, have started to co-operate with ESA on various levels.


ESA has its headquarters in Paris. The Director General and cabinet have their offices here, as do some of the ESA Programme Directors. The decisions that shape ESA’s present and future activities are made here.


 The European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, is the largest ESA establishment, a test centre and hub for European space activities, responsible for the technical preparation and management of ESA space projects and providing technical support to ESA’s satellite, space exploration and human spaceflight activities.


 The European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, ensures the smooth working of spacecraft in orbit. Its control rooms, linked to ground stations all over the world, track and control satellites, and carry out payload operations and routine systems monitoring.


 ESA’s centre for Earth observation in Frascati, near Rome, manages the ground segment for ESA and third-party Earth observation satellites, maintaining the largest archive of environmental data in Europe and coordinating over 20 ground stations and ground segment facilities in Europe. It also hosts the project team managing the Vega small-launcher program.


 The European Astronaut Centre located in Cologne, Germany, is a training facility and home base for all European astronauts. It is a centre of excellence for astronaut training and medical support.


 The European Space Astronomy Centre, at Villanueva de la Cañada, near Madrid in Spain, hosts the scientific operations centres for ESA’s astronomy and planetary missions, along with their scientific archives. It provides services to astronomical research projects worldwide.

Guiana Space Centre (CSG)

 Kourou, in French Guiana, is Europe’s gateway to space. Covering over 96 000 hectares, CSG is ideally sited for launching satellites, in particular because it is close to the equator. ESA is the owner of the launch and launcher production facilities and finances a significant part of the fixed costs of the launch base.

Redu Centre

 ESA’s Redu Centre in Belgium is responsible for controlling and testing a range of satellites as part of ESA’s ground station network. It is also home to the Space Weather Data Centre (as part of the ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme).


 The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications, in Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK, is supporting activities related to telecommunications, integrated applications, climate change, technology and science.

National space organisations of EU member states

Centre National d’Études Spatiales(CNES)

The Centre National d’Études Spatiales(CNES) (National Centre for Space Study) is the French government space agency (administratively, a “public establishment of industrial and commercial character”). Its headquarters are in central Paris. CNES is the main participant on the Ariane project. Indeed, CNES designed and tested all Ariane family rockets (mainly from its centre in Évry near Paris)

UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is a partnership of the UK government departments which are active in space. Through the UK Space Agency, the partners provide delegates to represent the UK on the various ESA governing bodies. Each partner funds its own programme.

German Aerospace Center(DLR)

The German Aerospace Center(DLR) (German: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.) is the national research centre for aviation and space flight of the Federal Republic of Germany and of other member states in the Helmholtz Association. Its extensive research and development projects are included in national and international cooperative programmes. In addition to its research projects, the centre is the assigned space agency of Germany bestowing headquarters of German space flight activities and its associates.

Adriatic-Mediterranean countries and Associated Mediterranean countries


Adriatic Aerospace Association (A3)

The Adriatic Aerospace Association (A3) is a non-governmental, non-profit and independent association established with the objectives of 1.) stimulating research and development in the aerospace sector, 2.) mediating projects as a point of contact, 3.) education and counselling; and 4.) international cooperation.



Ministry of National Development
Coordinates the space program and the connection to ESA.



Ministry of Education
Coordinates the space program and the connection to the ESA

Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Romania is involved in the activities of  United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space – COPUOS


There is no formal body to formulate a space program



There is no scientific and technological program for Space
Cooperation with ASI on fire and flood monitoring



Bulgarian Academy of Science

The Ministry of Economy is a formal link to ESA



Ministry of Communications and Digitalization

The Ministry of Development is a formal link to ESA



Ministry of Science and Technology
Connection to ESA

Czech Republic


Academic research and popularization
The link to ESA is from the Ministry of Transport

Industrial association
CSA < Ministry of Economy and Trade



Ministry of Education and Research
Connection to ESA

Swiss Space Centre – Academy, research, industry


Coordinates the space program and contact with ESA.


FFG is led by the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy

Other agencies

United Nations – Office for Outer Space Affairs


The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is the United Nations office responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. UNOOSA serves as the secretariat for the General Assembly’s only committee dealing exclusively with international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space: the  United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). 

UNOOSA is also responsible for implementing the Secretary-General’s responsibilities under international space law and maintaining the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space.

Through the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, UNOOSA conducts international workshops, training courses and pilot projects on topics that include remote sensing, satellite navigation, satellite meteorology, tele-education and basic space sciences for the benefit of developing nations. It also maintains a 24-hour hotline as the United Nations focal point for satellite imagery requests during disasters and manages the  United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).

UNOOSA is the current secretariat of the  International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).

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