Space Heritage Image Project

The ESA Archives at the ECSR contain two major collections of images originating from the HQ and ESTEC Communication offices. They represent more than 200 000 negatives and printed images from 1964 until 2003, taken by the ESRO, ELDO and ESA photographers, capturing engineering and space projects, administrative functions and everyday life at the various establishments.

The first collection, considered the major one, was created in ESTEC by the ESRO photographers in 1964. Until the Directorship of Reimar Lüst in 1985, this collection covered all ESRO and ESA, after which it became the collection for ESTEC activities only. The second collection is composed of 20 000 printed pictures. It contains a miscellanea of subjects: some from the ESTEC collection, some originals from the Publications Office and some originals from the Cabinet of the Director General (1964-1989) with a large amount of official signatures together with a small collection of ELDO negatives.

In the late 2010s, the ESA Archives began a project to digitise the negatives and printed pictures, to support the need for communication and celebration of past events. These images are preserved for historical purposes, not only for use by the academic community but also to be available to the general public. SHIP presently gives access to approximately 5000 of these images from 1964 to 1974 and a selection of pictures related to ELDO.

Downloading images

SHIP contains TIF and JPG images with metadata and descriptions for download.

To download images, please ensure you are viewing at image, not series, level. You will then be prompted to register an account or login before proceeding with download.(ESA users: please login from the ESA network using your ESA credentials.)

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.

Rules for use are specified in the copyright field. For more information, check the details on how to search and credit  Archives material or consult the complete SHIP user manual.

Interoperability and annotations

As the descriptions made by photographers in the registries were brief, handwritten and sometimes missing, annotations can be added to the descriptions in the image viewer, by logged in users, supporting the work of the archives team in describing pictures.

Click on an image to open a new window using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) tool that provides a world-class user experience in viewing, comparing, manipulating and annotating images (pictures or documents). Copying the IIIF manifest (the URL of the selected image) allows comparison with images from different external sources using the IIIF standard.

Access SHIP