How to Search And Credit
How to Search And Credit

How to search ESA Archives material

This site provides one entry point to all the digital holdings of the ESA Archives that are currently available. At present, you can browse the fully searchable SHIP database of images from the ECSR pictures collection. The Digital Resources page gives access to the ESA collections in deposit at the Historical Archives of the European Union, that concentrate on the founding, management and administration of ESA and its predecessor organisations (COPERS, ESRO, ELDO, ESC and CETS).

To download files from your search results, you will be prompted to register or login to your account. At present, this may involve more than one login: we are sorry for this inconvenience. (ESA users: please login from the ESA network using your ESA credentials.)

Work is ongoing to augment search functionalities to enable unified searches, and we will be adding new collections as digitisation work continues. In the meanwhile, we thank you for your patience throughout this period of site development.

Tips for searching

We recommend you use a fully HTML5 compliant web browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge and a display resolution higher than 1366x768 pixels.

Space Heritage Image Project (SHIP)

The SHIP databases uses:

  • The Dublin Core metadata Initiative for the metadata for the images
  • The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF)
  • Mirador viewer

On accessing SHIP, the list of the latest series uploaded to the image archives is shown, in reverse chronological order. Each record is identified by a label (image or series), a title and a unique identifier number. For each record, a thumbnail of the original image (or image cover when it refers to a series) is shown. Descriptive and administrative metadata are displayed in Dublin Core and are available alongside each thumbnail. Rules for use are specified in the copyright field.

The results are grouped in pages and can be browsed using the bar below the main menu.

To carry out a quick search, enter any text in the search field ‘search terms’ and press Enter. The searched text will be highlighted in the search results

To use an advanced search, click on Advanced in the main menu for new options, to filter and refine your search through more sets of Dublin Core elements. The logical operator AND will be applied on all fields chosen.

Searches can be limited to metadata from series by clicking on ‘search in series only’.

To view the images from each series, click on the series or image thumbnail. A new window with an embedded image viewer will be displayed.

You can download JPG images or pdf files using the ‘download image’ option at the top of the image viewer. (You will need register an account or login before proceeding with download. ESA users: please login from the ESA network using your ESA credentials.) Simply select the file type you want in the top menu bar of the viewer. Note that the pdf option will only appear for documents, not for image files or series of images.

To download TIF images, please ensure you are viewing at image, not series, level. Check the Image or Series label at the top left of each entry to know at which level you are viewing. From series level, you can open an image at image level by: clicking on its thumbnail to open the image viewer, viewing Image Info, copying the Identifier and entering this into the search bar as a search term.
Or, you can use the advanced search function to browse at image level: open an advanced search, ensure the 'show only the series' box is unchecked, enter your search term, and scroll down to see images at image level.
At image level, below each image thumbnail, a button will allow you to download a high-resolution image in different formats: JPG or TIF.

NB Files will be downloaded according to the behaviour configured in your browser. If your browser opens the image in a new window instead of downloading directly to your PC, right click on the image and select ‘Save image as…’ Don’t forget to empty your downloads folder of heavy files periodically.

Consult the complete SHIP user manual.

How to use and credit ESA Archives material

The holdings of the ESA Archives are historical artefacts: photographs, documents, objects and other material that tell the story of European cooperation and activity in space. Material can be accessed according to the rules for access to archival content and the agreed schedule for opening to the public agreed by the ESA Council in 1991:

  • Publicly available content – after 15 years
  • Controlled content – after 30 years
  • Regulated content – after 40 years

Note on protective markings

The information in all files accessed via this website has received the security marking ESA UNCLASSIFIED – Releasable to the Public regardless of the marking mentioned in the document. The content is to be understood to bear the marking ESA UNCLASSIFED – Releasable to the Public and this notification should be reproduced and disseminated with any onward distribution, extract or modification of this information. ESA is not responsible for any misrepresentation of the protective marking and need-to-know for information accessed via this website, if users do not replicate this notification where necessary.

Terms and Conditions for use

ESA-copyright content on this website is freely available for your information and research and is offered in the highest resolution available after its digitisation by the ESA Archives team.

You may download and copy ESA-copyright information, images, documents and materials from this website without fee for your personal, non-commercial, use, including for historical and scientific publications, or educational or informational purposes, subject to the conditions outlined below. Please include the ESA copyright and credit the ESA Archives as the source using this format:  ESA Archives-ECSR.

For content with any other copyright holder, please refer to the relevant organisation for their terms and conditions of use.

ESA does not grant the right to resell or redistribute any information, documents, images or material from this website or to compile or create derivative works from its material.

The content of this website may not be used to state or imply the endorsement by ESA or any ESA employee of a commercial product, process or service, or used in any other manner that might mislead.


All material published on this website is protected by copyright and owned or controlled by ESA or the party credited. Photographic images should be credited to ESA - name of the photographer, where known (e.g © ESA - R. Duhem).

You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display or in any way exploit any of the content from the ESA Archives without obtaining prior written authorisation, by contacting

Crediting the ESA Archives in Publications

For any publication resulting from research using the ESA Archives as a primary source, once you have obtained the authorisation above, please ensure that you credit the ESA Archives as the source using this format:  ESA Archives-ECSR.

Use of ESA logo

The ESA logo is owned by ESA and protected by trademarks and under Article 6ter of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. You may not modify or create derivatives of the ESA logo. Any use, reproduction, publication, display, transmission, making available to the public or exploitation of the ESA logo requires prior written authorisation. For authorisation, please contact:


Neither ESA nor any other party involved in creating, producing or delivering this website shall be liable for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect or punitive damages arising out of users' access to, or use of, the website.

Please notify us of any errors or inaccuracies you may find. Please note that you browse and use the website at your own risk. ESA does not warrant that the functional aspects of the website will be uninterrupted or error free or that this website, or the server that makes it available, are free of viruses or other harmful components. We may change material on the site without prior notice.

Personal data privacy

By accessing this website, certain information about users, such as internet protocol (IP) addresses, navigation through the site, software used and time spent, as well as other similar information, will be stored on ESA servers. These will not specifically identify users and the information will be used internally for website traffic analysis only. If users provide unique identifying information, such as name, address and other information on forms stored on this site, this information will be used for statistical purposes only and will not be published or made available for general access.

ESA does not sell or rent its website users' names, addresses, email addresses or other personal information.