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Milestones

From the early 60s on, Austrian pioneering spirit has been noticeable in space research. Today, Austria’s industry has become a recognized partner in global space projects. In this time frame, there were many important successes and events: from the full membership in ESA or major scientific contributions to the mission Rosetta up to the participation in the earth observation program Copernicus and the European satellite navigation system Galileo. Enjoy a time travel through the last decades!

photo: APA

60s

First Austrian activities in space

Austria's journey into space starts at the beginning of the 60s ­– with the participation to the comittee that intended to prepare the foundation of the European Space Agency (COPERS). In 1969 the first Austrian instrument on board of a research rocket takes off – at the initiative of Prof. Willibald Riedler. These are the first steps of the Graz University of Technology – and of Austria – into the infinite vastness of outer space.

1972

Foundation of ASA

Two years after the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences is founded in 1970, the formation of Austrian Space Agency (ASA) follows.

1983

SPACELAB

It's a true sensation: The launch of the European Spacelab with the View Port developed in Austria and 3 domestic experiments.

photo: infothek.bmvit

1987

Accession to ESA

After Austria has contributed to ESA programs since 1975, it becomes an associated member in 1981. But the true story of success only starts when by-then Science Minister Heinz Fischer signs the Treaty of Accession in 1987: Nowadays every satellite that is launched into the orbit by ESA carries Austrian technology on board.

photo: Doris Kucera

1991

AUSTROMIR-91 Mission

A mission to remember: Franz Viehböck, the first Austrian cosmonaut, travels to the space station MIR, where 14 Austrian experiments are carried out successfully.

photo: ESA

1998

Successful launch of Ariane 5

The most powerful European launch vehicle ever constructed is equipped with fuel lines produced by Magna Steyr. Today, the Ariane 5 is the leading launcher of the continent with a market share of 50%.

photo: ESA

1999

Launch of XMM-Newton

On December 10th, another Ariane 5G launcher starts to transport an important satellite into space: The X-ray satellite XMMNewton by ESA has the task to explore the most energetic processes in the universe – like the accretion onto black holes. According to plan, it will stay in operation until the end of 2022.

photo: ESA

2002

Envisat takes off

The biggest environmental satellite that was ever built in Europe goes into service in outer space. Its task: a permanent monitoring of the climate, the oceans and the surface of the earth. The highly developed instruments on board are even able to measure the height and direction of ocean waves or the growth phase of plants. On the 8th of April 2012 – after twice the life period of 5 years that was originally planned – the Envisat mission is finally completed.

photo: ESA

2003

Mars-Express

The Austrian Rudolf Schmidt leads the ESA mission Mars Express that is carried out with strong domestic contribution. Its goal: to completely map the Mars, explore its atmosphere and surface such as the material which lies 6,5 feet deep in the planet.

photo: ESA

2004

Launch of Rosetta

The Rosetta spacecraft was launched with a daring goal: After 10 years flight rendezvous for the first time in history with a comet (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko), orbit the comet, deploy a lander to its surface and escort the comet for two years through the solar system as it orbits the sun. The venturous mission succeeds – inter alia, because the passive thermal protection “Thermal Louvres” from Magna Steyr protects the probe.The Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences was involved in five instruments aboard orbiter and lander.

2005

Landing on Saturn's moon Titan

The Cassini-Huygens mission, launched in October 1997, ranks among the most successful space missions of the last decades. One of many highlights was the landing of ESA’s Huygens probe on Saturn’s moon Titan in January 2005. Since then, a microphone built by the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences to measure wind noise and turbulences is the most distant outpost of the institute.

photo: ESA

2006

MetOp

The first generation of meterological satellites called MetOp are launched. Due to the higher image resolution, the better observation of the polar and north atlantic region such as the more accurate measuring of temperature and moisture distribution, the reliable frequency of forecast can be extended from three up to five days.

photo: ESA

2013

First Austrian satellites

26 years after Austria's accession to ESA the first domestic satellites are transported into the orbit. Their aim is to measure the brightness fluctuations of stars. In 2017, the meteorologic satellite Pegasus constructed by the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt is launched. And in 2019 the research satellite OPS-SAT will enlarge the Austrian space fleet.

photo: ESA

2014

Copernicus is launched

In the frame of the Copernicus earth observation program, the first satellite is launched. Two years later data from this Sentinel are accessable for free under www.sentinel.zamg.ac.at. To this day they are used by many Austrian research institutes and companies.

photo: ESA

2014

Full Deployment of Galileo starts

The European satellite navigation system goes into operation in December 2016 – after the systems and functions were checked using test equipment developed by Atos Austria. Whereas RUAG Space Austria provides the important thermal isolation such as the interface electronics of the central computer.

photo: NASA

2015

Launch of NASA-Mission MMS

The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) investigates the dynamics of the Earth’s magnetosphere and the underlying energy transfer– with the help of three-dimensional measurements performed by four satellites. The Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences is the biggest non-US partner. Together with RUAG Space Austria it is responsible for the spacecraft potential control, which compensates the electrostatic charge of the satellites and participates in the measurement of the electrical and magnetic fields.

photo: ESA

2016

First Austrian director of ESA

The 53 year old geophysicist Josef Aschbacher from Tyrol becomes the first Austrian director of ESA. His department earth observation manages the highest annual budget of the space agency.

photo: NASA

2018

ICESAT-2

The earth observation satellite of NASA is equipped with an innovative GPS-receiver made in Austria.

photo: ESA

2018

BepiColombo

In October ESA launches its spectacular mission to Mercury, the smallest and most unknown planet of the solar system. RUAG Space Austria constructed the control electronics for the solar panels, the pointing mechanisms for the electrical thrusters, the thermal insulation and the test equipment. Atos Austria provided the essential electrical devices for the ground tests. The Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences built parts of the mass spectrometer and of two magnetometers. The 21 feet high and 4,1 tons heavy space probe has to approach Mercury in large elliptical orbits and must conduct nine flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury in order to slow down and avoid falling into the Sun.