1. ESA is a publicly funded international and intergovernmental organization composed of 22 Member States.

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are all part of this huge agency.

Member States flags at ESTEC disturbed by an unusual visitor coming from far, far away. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

2. ESA brings space to Europe to improve the daily life of its citizens.

The European Space Agency has been ensuring that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world: from jobs and economic growth, to public services, efficient communications and security.

Floating over Europe! Credit: ESA/NASA

3. ESA is the only multinational space agency in the world: a very successful story of cooperation in Europe.

By pooling resources, ESA is able to develop fascinating projects that would not be possible for individual countries. The Agency stimulates relations between European countries, expands the overall European scientific and industrial base and supports the outstanding scientific discoveries of the future.

The 2009 new recruits to the European Astronaut Corps: Timothy Peake, from UK ; Andreas Mogensen, from Denmark ;  Alexander Gerst, from Germany ; Luca Parmitano, from Italy ; Samantha Cristoforetti, from Italy ; Thomas Pesquet, from France. Credit: ESA–M. Koell

4. ESA’s main strength is to have skilled and competent people collaborating from different European countries.

ESA collaborators have different backgrounds and experiences but they all work together to come up with new ideas. They bring the best out of this diversity, and ESA can proudly say that it employs bright minds and top space specialists.

ESA astronaut Pedro Duque joined the 22nd NEEMO expedition, in the Aquarius underwater habitat. Objectives this year included testing technology to track equipment and studying body composition and sleep. Credit: NASA

5. ESA improves economic growth for European industry.

About 85% of ESA’s budget is spent on contracts on European industry partners. That means that the European Space Agency ensures that Member States get a fair return on their investment.

ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft is taking shape at Airbus in Bremen, Germany. Credit: ESA

6. ESA is present in eight sites in Europe, and represents about 2300 staff.

ESA’s headquarters in Paris, France;
EAC, the European Astronauts Centre in Cologne, Germany;
ESAC, the European Space Astronomy Centre, in Villanueva de la Canada, Madrid, Spain;
ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, in Darmstadt, Germany;
ESRIN, the ESA centre for Earth Observation, in Frascati, near Rome, Italy;
ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands;
ECSAT, the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications, in Harwell, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom;
ESA Redu Centre, in Belgium.

In the final weeks leading to the Sentinel-1A launch, set for 3 April 2014, the mission control teams at ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany have been training intensively. Credit: ESA