ESA Establishes First R&D Center in UK

Artist's impression of the UK ESA facility. (Credit: ESA) Credit: ESA.
Artist’s impression of the UK ESA facility. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — 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. The development of innovative public–private partnerships will be emphasised.

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), constitute the main infrastructure of ESA.

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.

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