ELDO's launch base in Kourou  © ESA
Opening of ELDO job descriptions and organisation charts
Wed, 27/03/2024 - 08:19

The latest opening of material from our collections continues our recent focus on 60 years of European cooperation in space and sheds lights on the organisation and set-up of ESA’s predecessor ELDO: from today copies of ELDO job descriptions and organisation charts from the early 1970s are available in the SHIP database.

ELDO was the European Launcher Development Organisation (or, more formally, the European Space Vehicle Launcher Development Organisation), created in February 1964 to develop a satellite launch vehicle for Europe. Its French acronym, CECLES, stood for Centre Européen pour la Construction de Lanceurs d'Engins Spatiaux.

These internal job descriptions and organisation charts date back to 1972, towards the end of ELDO’s near-decade of activity. Following the decision made at the fifth European Space Conference in December 1972, its Europa III launcher programme, intended as the launch vehicle for the future European telecommunications satellite but which had never made it past the development phase, was cancelled. In turn, and in April 1973, the Europa II programme was also cancelled.

At this point, the process of winding down ELDO began. By the beginning of 1974, the only activities left were those related to the administration of its liquidation, although it remained a legal entity and it was foreseen that its Convention would end on the date of entry into force of the ESA Convention. However, redundancy conditions for most ELDO staff were agreed in 1973, leaving a small group of 60 who would eventually be taken on by ESA. In the interim and from 1 July 1974, they were assigned to ESRO, the European Space Research Organisation.

With that in mind, the date of this document assumes a new importance, giving us a final snapshot of ELDO at its full staff complement, just months in advance of these momentous events.

In terms of its contents, it is made up of a running list of job descriptions (and sometimes task definitions) arranged according to Directorate (Technical or Administrative) and area. These are prefaced and interspersed by organisation charts, cascading down from the entire organisation, through Directorate level down to Divisions, such as operations and launch bases, or to different projects such as Europa II.

From the pages relating to the translation section, we can understand that ELDO had three working languages – English, French and German – with translators working to ensure its official and working documents and correspondence were available in all three. It is interesting to speculate on whether there was any particular linguistic dominance within different areas of ELDO, especially when referring to this document – which starts in English, and where all organisation charts are in English, but where the section on job descriptions for the ELDO team in French Guiana and for the entire Directorate of Administration, switches language to French!

As a whole, it gives a complete overview of the functions within ELDO at that time, and a glimpse ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the organisation itself. It is a resource ripe for exploitation by anyone interested in how ELDO organised itself and conducted its day-to-day work, researching the history of technical project management, or wanting to investigate the roots of the European launcher project.

The ECSR’s holdings on ELDO are much smaller than those related to ESRO. It is therefore important to be able to open this material which offers different perspectives on an organisation that remains little known compared to its better documented partner, and on the challenges of the first decade of European collaboration and activity in the space sphere.

How to access the document

You can browse or download the complete pdf document (248 pages) using this link, or by entering the SHIP database and searching for ‘ELDO job descriptions’.

More material on ELDO

Highlight - ESRO and ELDO Communications- 1964-1975