Europa 2 as collection of national projects

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ELDO carrier Rocket Europe 1 (F5) before its launch in Woomera, Australia

For the countries that did eventually build the first rockets under the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO), there were clear advantages to co-operation.

Among other things, this meant sharing the costs for national programs while maintaining and developing knowledge and expertise. Although the financing was international, each physical part of the project had a different country of origin. The British reworked their cancelled military rocket Blue Streak into the first stage of the joint European launcher. Similarly, the second stage was developed from the French missile Coralie, which enabled France to also work on the delivery system basis for its own nuclear arsenal, independent of the US or the Soviet Union.

Germany, which had been a leader in rocket technology, not least with the deadly V2 rocket developed during the Nazi era, would build the third stage, "Astris," thus re-entering the rocket industry under the auspices of peaceful collaboration. Italy built a test satellite, while Belgium and the Netherlands participated with responsibility for ground control and telemetry.

How to cite this page


Alexander Badenoch, 'Europa 2 as collection of national projects', Inventing Europe,


  1. Trischler, Helmuth and Kohlrausch,Martin. The Politics of Expertise in Europe: Creating, Organizing, Sharing Knowledge. Basingstoke: Palgrave, forthcoming.

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ELDO: the European space flop

After Sputnik woke up the world to spaceflight in 1957, several Western European countries joined the US in the race for space. A number of international collaborations were formed, including the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) that was set up in 1962. However, their lofty goals did not achieve such high-flying results.

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Developing new technologies: ESTEC

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