European Space Agency

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The European Space Agency (ESA) (French: Agence spatiale européenne - ASE; German: Europäische Weltraumorganisation) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, with 20 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000 with an annual budget of about €4.28 billion / US$5.51 billion (2013).

ESA's space flight programme includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station programme, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle.
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