In this issue of the ESA Bulletin, you'll find the third and final instalment of our comprehensive chronology of ESA, its predecessor organisations and the history of European cooperation in space.
On the cover, one of the stunning images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by ESA’s Rosetta mission, which is producing some of the most iconic images of space exploration of all time. We are all looking forward to seeing those images returned from Philae’s landing on 12 November.
But inside this issue, we look back over the year since Europe’s largest telecommunications satellite, Alphasat, was launched on 25 July 2013. This launch marked a significant milestone for an ambitious Public–Private Partnership between ESA and Inmarsat, joining forces to develop, launch and operate an innovative telecommunications satellite.
In Alphasat: Partnership in Orbit, we look at the success of this partnership being demonstrated on a daily basis: using its sophisticated payload, Alphasat is extending Inmarsat’s capacity in orbit for mobile telecommunications.
This is also an exciting and busy period for European human spaceflight. For the first time, two ESA astronauts begin their long-duration missions
to the International Space Station in the same
year: Alexander Gerst was launched to the orbital complex in May, followed by Samantha Cristoforetti this November. Samantha’s upcoming mission is described in The Sky is not the Limit.
ESA’s Venus Express has completed routine science observations but its work isn’t over yet. Rounding off with The Ride of a Lifetime, we read how over the last few months, the spacecraft has made daring plunges into the planet’s hostile atmosphere, giving ESA valuable experience in ‘aerobraking’.
The ESA Bulletin is published four times a year to inform the space-interested public of ESA’s activities. In addition to a wide range of articles, every issue provides an overview of the status of ESA's major space projects.
The full archive of Bulletins is also available at ESA's Publications web site, www.esa.int/publications