International Affairs

Space Agency Spotlight: European Space Agency (ESA)

Written by: developer

Headquartered in Paris, the European Space Agency (ESA) is “Europe’s gateway to space.”  An international organization consisting of 22 Member States, ESA’s mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. 

During 2014, the remarkable success of the Rosetta Comet Mission, led by ESA, fascinated followers around the world. In recognition of that astonishing accomplishment, the Space Foundation presented the Rosetta Comet Exploration Team with the 2015 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration at the 31st Space Symposium.

During the Space Symposium, the Space Foundation also presented its highest honor – the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award – to Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA. Dordain will retire from ESA on June 30, 2015.

Rosetta is just one of several missions currently led by ESA. Other missions involve mapping stars in 3D, such as Gaia, while others, such as Swarm, are mapping the Earth’s magnetic field. Exomars, set to launch in 2016, is equipped with a lander and rover and is designed to orbit Mars. 

ESA also participates in International Space Station activities. Currently onboard representing ESA is Italian-born Samantha Cristoforetti.

Learn more about ESA and its many missions by visiting  

Pictured: Presentation of the 2015 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration to the Rosetta Comet Exploration Team at the 31st Space Symposium

This article is part of Space Watch: May 2015 (Volume: 14, Issue: 5).