Roy Gibson: the start of the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's first director general, Roy Gibson, talks about the beginning of the agency.

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Well it all came through in what were known in those days as package deals. We had periods of negotiations and then, when the vision cleared, they managed to get an agreement. And we got a package which gave nobody exactly what they wanted, but enough to keep them quiet. And there was a big one, which ended with ESA being created. The first job, therefore, was to get the team focused onto dealing with the programme that we’d got ‘cause it was, it doesn’t sound much these days, but it was a very ambitious programme. And the relationship of the different member states to these programmes varied. The British didn’t want to know about launchers, the French wanted to know about everything, and you had to tailor the programmes to the interests of the various countries. The second important thing was to get a system for renewing programmes, which would eternalise ESA. My worry was that ESA would be a flash in the pan, with a programme, full stop, which would gradually peter out as you managed to launch the satellite. Whereas my ambition for ESA, and I think it was the ambition of a lot of member states, was to have a space agency which would go on renewing its programmes. And this in fact has happened, and I like to think that these first five years were crucial in getting acceptance for this large beast.
  • Interviewee Roy Gibson
  • Duration 00:02:08
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 5/22/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/19

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