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by Staff Writers
Noordwijk, Netherlands (SPX) Jun 19, 2013
From the latest space ferry to the very first Alphasat, Europe has never been more active in space, with a crowded manifest of ESA launches across the rest of the year. But where are all these varied missions born? See for yourself this October, as ESA's ESTEC research and technology centre opens its doors to the public.
No sooner has Luca Parmitano joined the International Space Station than ESA's latest space truck is resupplying the orbital outpost. Meanwhile, the May-launched Proba-V is returning its first maps of global vegetation, while the high-power Alphasat telecoms satellite is being prepared for launch. The Gaia satellite will soon begin charting a billion stars in 3D in our Galaxy, while the next batch of Galileo navigation satellites will also fly this year.
All very different space missions with diverse goals, but their origins can all be traced back behind the doors of a single location: the European Space Technology and Research Centre, ESTEC - ESA's single largest establishment, nestling beside the sand dunes of Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
In place for more than half a century, ESTEC is the incubator of the European space effort, where most ESA projects are born and where they are guided through development. Involvement may start with initial mission planning, research projects or laboratory support, extending to the testing of entire spacecraft in the ESTEC Test Centre, the largest facility of its kind in Europe. And ESTEC's Erasmus is the leading European repository of human spaceflight expertise.
ESTEC's Space Expo visitor centre is open year-round but on 6 October this year, for one day only from 10:00 to 17:00, the entire establishment is being opened to the public - provided you book early enough.
This year's Open Day is taking place as part of the Netherlands' national Weekend of Science.
This will be your chance to meet ESA astronauts, talk to space scientists and engineers, view specialist laboratories and test equipment simulating every aspect of the orbital environment, look at satellites being tested for space and touch hardware that has already flown in space.
Not to mention all the additional space exhibitions, videos and lectures, ESA merchandise for sale and dedicated children's activities planned for the Open Day.
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