Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, the European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental agency composed of 20 European countries dedicated to the exploration of space.
ESA projects include human spaceflight through participation with the International Space Station, unmanned exploration missions to the moon and other planets, designing launch vehicles and researching technologies involved with Earth observation and telecommunication.
ESA operates a number of facilities throughout Europe and abroad, with a major spaceport in the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana; science missions based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands; Earth observation missions based at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy; ESA Mission Control in Darmstadt, Germany; and the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany.
ESA has stated the following as their primary goals:
20 European countries are ESA members: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.