About Us

ESA Archives

The ESA Archives both preserves ESA’s institutional memory and promotes and exploits Europe’s technical and scientific legacy in space. An important part of our work, and the purpose of this website, is making our vast resources available online to anyone with an interest in the story and benefits of European endeavours and cooperation in space. Welcome! The ESA Archives exist in two different physical locations in Italy: the European Centre for Space Records (ECSR) at ESRIN, Frascati, and the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU), based at the European University Institute in Florence.

European Centre for Space Records

The ECSR was established in 2002 as a dedicated location to host technical documentation related to ESA projects and missions.

The archives include collections such as Envisat, Rosetta, Artemis, ISO, MSG, Cluster, ERS, SOHO and XMM, among many more. From 2017, with the move of the HQ Archives to the ECSR, it became not only the centre for all ESA projects and missions, but also for material on all administrative and legal affairs and decision-making processes. The centre also hosts all signed original contracts and has a substantial collection of negatives and photographs as well as a large collection of microfiche and some artefacts. The collections span the entire history of the Agency: from its beginnings in 1959 stemming from an idea of Edoardo Amaldi and Pierre Auger, through the ESRO and ELDO years, to the establishment of ESA in 1975 and the years following. Today, the centre holds an impressive seven linear kilometres of documents.

Historical Archives of the European Union

Since 1989, the historical archives of ESA are kept at the HAEU, based at the European University Institute in Florence. These collections number approximately 200 linear metres and form an important part the institutional memory of the Agency and its predecessor organisations: the European Preparatory Commission for Space Research (COPERS — Commission Préparatoire Européenne de Recherches Spatiales), the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), and the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), as well as from the European Space Conference (ESC) and the European Conference on Satellite Communications (CETS). To date, around 12 000 digital files are available.

Ongoing digitisation and the online digital collections

While the ECSR continues to function as the physical location for analogue records, since 2018 it has also embarked on an ambitious and ongoing digitisation project, with the objective of using digital technologies to make this rich legacy of ESA’s past activities available to researchers anywhere in the world.

This portal, launched on the 20th anniversary of the ECSR, brings together the digital archives holdings from both the ECSR and the ESA Historical Archives at the HAEU, making them easy to search for anyone with an interest in Europe’s story in space and enabling the Agency, its member states and the international research community to exploit this rich heritage.