European Space Agency opens its doors in the UK

Press Release From: UK Space Agency
Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, today unveiled the Agency's first UK facility: ECSAT, the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications, located at the Harwell Oxford campus.

ECSAT supports activities related to telecommunications, climate change, technology science and 'integrated applications' - the combined use of different space and terrestrial technologies, data and infrastructures to create new everyday applications. Specific emphasis will be put on the development of innovative public-private-partnerships, such as with the UK's new Satellite Applications Catapult, officially opening on 14 May in Harwell as well.

David Willetts noted: "The UK space industry is increasingly important to growth, contributing over #9 billion to the economy every year and supporting thousands of highly skilled jobs. ESA's decision to locate its high-tech facility in this country shows that we are creating the right environment for innovation and cutting-edge research.

"The centre will benefit from working closely with other space scientists and businesses at Harwell, including the Satellite Applications Catapult being officially launched today."

Despite the current economic climate, the UK space industry has been identified as a growth sector. With 70% of its output being exported it is a major player on the global stage. ECSAT is designed to play a key role in the UK space domain.

ESA's presence in the UK is a clear sign that the Agency is supporting the increased importance given to space by the UK government.

Mr Dordain welcomed the UK's increased interest for investing in space in particular through ESA: "Investing in space is investing in competitiveness and growth, through knowledge, innovation and services. The Harwell Oxford campus is already a unique place of competences and the building up of ESA's presence in this campus will reinforce both ESA and the campus."

ECSAT will complement ESA's current world-class capabilities located at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre (the Netherlands), ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre (Germany), ESRIN, the European Space Research Institute (Italy), ESAC, the European Space Astronomy Centre (Spain), EAC, the European Astronaut Centre (Germany) and the Redu Centre (Belgium), which, together with Headquarters (France), constitutes the main infrastructure of ESA.

Artist's impression of ECSAT
Credit: ESA

Julia Short
Press Officer
UK Space Agency
Tel: +44 (0)1793 418069
Mobile: +44 (0)7770 276721
About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU and is discussing an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space. It is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.

The Agency is responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in the space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. It leads the UK's civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefits to all citizens.

The UK Space Agency:

* Co-ordinates UK civil space activity
* Encourages academic research
* Supports the UK space industry
* Raises the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
* Increases understanding of space science and its practical benefits
* Inspires our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
* Licences the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
* Promotes co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

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