The European Space Agency (ESA; French: Agence spatiale européenne, ASE) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, with 22 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,000 and an annual budget of about €5.25 billion / US$5.77 billion (2016).
ESA's space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station programme); the launch and operation of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle.
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