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The European Space Agency Historical Archives

The historical archives of the European Space Agency (ESA) represent the legacy of Europe’s earliest major efforts to develop a space programme. They span from the Conference of Meyrin in 1960 to the ESA Convention, adopted in 1975 by European ministers during the final meeting of the European Space Conference (ESC) in Brussels. The fonds provide public access to the ground-breaking initiatives of the founding fathers of European space, Edoardo Amaldi and Pierre Auger.

The ESA-related fonds comprise six groups. These are the ESA and its five predecessor organisations: the European Conference on Satellite Communications (CETS), the European Preparatory Commission on Space Research (COPERS), the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO),  the European Space Conference (ESC), and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO). The deposits include documents, correspondence, photographs and artefacts; over 49,000 items have been described for consultation in the HAEU’s database.

The HAEU has hosted the historical archives of the ESA since the signature of a deposit agreement between the ESA and European University Institute on 12 May 1989. The ESA has made yearly archival transfers to the HAEU since then.

On 2 May 2019, the ESA and the HAEU celebrated the 30th anniversary of their cooperation by signing a Letter of Intent to foster digital access to the ESA historical archives. As a result, users may now access digitalised files in the ESA, CETS, COPERS, ELDO, ESC and ESRO fonds.

In December 2020, the ESA and the EUI signed a revised and amended contract.

Since 2022, the ESA has financed the European Space Agency Postgraduate Research Grant Programme to support research using the ESA fonds at the HAEU.


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Page last updated on 13/12/2022

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