European Space Research Organisation
The European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) was an international organisation founded by 10
The origins of a joint European space effort are generally traced back to a number of initiatives taken in 1959 and 1960 by a small group of scientists and science administrators, catalysed by two friends, physicists and scientific statesmen, the Italian
Now, as the decade drew to a close, they turned their attention to space. Success was rapid. Within a year of the first formal discussions being held amongst scientists, European governments had set up a preparatory commission in order to explore the possibilities for a joint space research effort.
The European Preparatory Commission for Space Research (
The first was the Interim Scientific and Technical Working Group and its task was to prepare the scientific programme for the future space organisation, paying particular attention to the technical and financial implications of its proposals.
Lamek Hulthén, from the
The second was the Legal, Administrative and Financial Working Group. Its chairman was initially left open, though it was recommended that he be someone from the German Federal Republic. Alexander Hocker, a senior bureaucrat from Bad-Godesberg who was the chairman of the CERN Finance Committee at the time, took on this task. All Member States were to be represented on both working groups, which were empowered to set up subgroups to facilitate their work.:41
By the third meeting of COPERS on 24 and 25 October 1961 in Munich, the Interim Scientific and Technical Working Group had prepared a 77-page document outlining the future European Space Research Organisation. The so-called "Blue Book":48 was divided into five parts, each devoted to one of the following subjects:
The Blue Book foresaw the firing of some 435 sounding rockets and the successful development and launching of 17 satellites in the 8 years covered by the ESRO Convention, namely 11 small satellites, 4 space probes, and 2 large satellites. It was assumed that 2 launchings would be required to orbit one successful spacecraft, so the number of satellite and space probes launchings budgeted for was doubled. The total cost of the satellite programme was estimated at 733.5 million
It should be noted that the Blue Book was more a manifesto of interests and expectations than a concrete working hypothesis. It only reflected the intentions and hopes of important sectors of the European scientific community while ignoring their lack of capacity to fulfill these intentions. The fact that transforming the manifesto into a true operational programme would be a long and laborious process and the results sometimes disappointing.