Oral History Project

Oral History of Europe in Space is a project run by the European Space Agency, with the collaboration of the European University institute (Historical Archives of the European Union).

The objective of this project is to record the memories and experiences of those individuals having played a central role in the development of European space cooperation, in view to make them accessible to the researchers and the public. It includes transcripts of a series of historical interviews with key personalities within ESA Member States having worked in ministries, space agencies (national and ESA), scientific institutes and industry. The interviews cover all areas of space activities: space science, Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation, launchers, and human spaceflight. About 20 interviews were conducted in the '90s by senior historians (John Krige, Arturo Russo, Lorenza Sebesta) in the framework of the ESA History Project. Another 30 interviews were carried out by historians involved in the Extended ESA History Project (Dawinka Laureys, Matthew Godwin, David Redon, Stephan Zellmeyer, Nina Wormbs, Manuella Giovannini, Niels Eilskov Jensen, etc.) and are available for consultation according to the rules laid down by the interviewees. Further in-depth interviews with prominent space pioneers in Germany were done by Prof. Dr. Helmuth Trischler and Dr. Matthias Knopp in 2010, and by Dr. Peter Habison in Austria. Currently, five oral history interviews are being conducted in Finland.

Whereas the original ESA History Project dealt mainly with the intergovernmental collaborative effort in space in the framework of ESRO, ELDO and ESA, the main focus of research in the Extended ESA History Project is the history of national space programmes set against a background of European space cooperation. A description of the ESA History Project can be found in the ESA Bulletin No 119, pages 48-54, August 2004. In 2009, the ESA History Project was awarded the Alexandre Koyré Medal by the International Academy of the History of Science (IAHS).

Some of interviews are subject to prior authorisation using the request form available on Access Policy.


© European Union, 1995-2013
© European University Institute - Historical Archives of the European Union, 1995-2013

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