The European Space Agency (ESA) (French: l'Agence spatiale européenne - ASE; German: Europäische Weltraumorganisation) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 20 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000 with an annual budget of about €4.02 billion / US$5.38 billion (2012).
ESA's space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. 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.
ESA's purpose shall be to provide for, and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems. (Source: image and text wikipedia)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.
Since 2011, NASA's strategic goals have been
extend and sustain human activities across the solar system, expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe, create the innovative new space technologies, advance aeronautics research, enable program and institutional capabilities to conduct NASA’s aeronautics and space activities, share NASA with the public, educators, and students to provide opportunities to participate.
On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent moon base. The goal was to start building the moon base by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization. However in 2009, the Augustine Committee found the program to be on a "unsustainable trajectory." In 2010, President Barack Obama halted existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on manned missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station.
In September 2011, NASA announced the start of the Space Launch System program to develop a human-rated heavy lift vehicle. The Space Launch System is intended to launch the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and other elements towards the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and one day Mars. The Orion MPCV is planned for an unmanned test launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket around late 2013. (Source: image and text wikipedia)
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