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HomeEuropean Space Agency's Space History Conference

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Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2017


There is more to space than rocket science. Historians, diplomats, economists, law students, political scientists and sociologists have all contributed to our understanding of the space age and its impact on our societies over the past decades. Sixty years on from the placing of the first human-made object in orbit around Earth, space is now an integral part of our daily lives. Space science and technology are projects for the whole of humankind, reaching not only outside Earth’s atmosphere, but also beyond our Solar System. While the technological and scientific challenges of working, living and travelling in space motivate students to pursue such studies, the impact of space activities on our lives on Earth, on relations between nations and organisations, and our collective recent history, provides fertile ground for students and scholars in the humanities to take up space-related subjects. 



ESA is launching the latest phase of the ESA History Project. Building on the success of the previous phases, this new endeavour is marked by an opening to other domains in the humanities, while continuing to take a historical perspective and write the history of space activities, especially in and by Europe, with a view, notably, to supporting present and future decision-making.

To mark the launch of this new phase, an international conference is being planned for 23–24 November 2017 in Padua, Italy, in cooperation with the University of Padua and its Giuseppe Colombo University Centre for Space Studies and Activities.

In connection with the Conference, ESA is calling on early career scholars (generally up to the age of 35) and university students at Master’s level and onwards, from all over the world, who are writing on subjects related to space activities, to submit their work to be considered for presentation at the conference and to enter the competition for best paper.

The winner of the prize for best paper will be offered a trip to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, and/or the publication of their paper. For those young scholars invited to present their paper at the conference in Padua, a certain amount of travel support will be provided on request.

Submission guidelines

In order to enter, please submit the following items, by 30 August 2017 by email to: young.spacehistory@esa.int

  •  An abstract of your work in English
  •  Affiliation and description of the framework in which the work is being conducted
  •  An endorsement of your academic supervisor (if applicable)
  •  A short motivation letter

Those selected will be notified by 20 September 2017. Then you should submit by 15 October 2017:

  •  A full paper in English or French
  •  An executive summary in English
  •  An evaluation letter from your academic supervisor (if applicable)

Scientific committee

The proposals will be evalutated by the ESA History Project Academic Council (EHPAC):

The History Project is coordinated at ESA by Nathalie Tinjod, and the third phase steered by an ESA History Project Academic Council (EHPAC), chaired by Professor John Krige. EHPAC is composed of distinguished scholars, from renowned universities, research institutes and museums, nominated by the ESA Director General for three years, as from January 2017. They are:

  •  John Krige (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA)
  •  Doug Millard (Science Museum, London, UK),
  •  Isabelle Sourbès-Verger (Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris, France),
  •  Helmut Trischler (Forschungsinstitut des Deutsches Museums, Munich, Germany),
  •  Antonio Varsori (Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy),
  •  Nina Wormbs (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden).

ESA's Piero Messina acts as the Executive Secretary of the Academic Council.   

Preliminary Programme

Last updated: 24 July 2017, 13:30:00 (GMT)

Thursday 23 November 2017

08:30 Registration of participants

10:00 Greetings from local dignitaries

  • 10:15 Opening address by ESA Director General,  Johann-Dietrich Wörner
  • 10:30 Scope and objectives of ESA History Project,  Opening panel by ESA History Project Academic Council (EHPAC) members, moderated by ESA History Project Coordinator
  • 11:15 Sputnik 60+ : whither space?  John Krige, EHPAC Chairman, Kranzberg Professor, School of History, Technology and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
  • 11:45 The moving frontier of space exploration,  Sylvestre Maurice, Deputy Principal Investigator for Curiosity/ChemCam, Mars 2020/SuperCam, ExoMars 2020/ Raman Laser Spectrometer, Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), Toulouse

12:30 Lunch break

  • 14:00 International cooperation in space science: a 60 year overview,  Professor Roger-Maurice Bonnet, Astrophysicist, former ESA Science Programme Director, International Space Science Institute, Bern
  • 14:45 From the Outer Space Treaty to UNISPACE 50+
  • 15:30 Space diplomacy, Science diplomacy: how they interact and what is at stake?  Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, Director of research at CNRS, Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris,  Piero Messina, European Space Agency, Strategy Department, Paris

16:30 Coffee break

  • 16:45 The Sputnik effect: a comparative international approach,  Panel of Historians led by Antonio Varsori, Political Science Department, Law and International Studies, University of Padua

20:00 Social Dinner

Friday 24 November 2017

09:00 Space and social sciences

 Introductory statements by EPHAC members

  • 09:30 Space History: a tool to support decision-making?  Round table discussion featuring historians from organisations and members of air and space academies

10:30 Coffee Break

  • 10:45 Pitches by young scholars and students and Q&A session
  • 12:45 Award ceremony for best paper

13:00 Lunch Break

  • 14:00 What contribution can oral history make to the writing of the history of organisations?
  • 14:45 Witnesses meet young scholar,  Introduced and moderated by ESPI Director Jean-Jacques Tortora  (topics: access to space, exploration, applications, industry, space education, space institutions and space diplomacy)
  • 16:15 The Patrimonial dimension of space history,  Round table discussion featuring representatives of patrimonial institutions and curators

17:00 Closing remarks

17:30 Adjourn


  • Palazzo Bo Aula Magna, Archivio Antico, Sala delle colonne - Via 8 Febbraio 2
    Padua, Italian Republic (35122)


  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017


  • espace, satellites, coopération internationale, exploration spatiale,


  • Piero MESSINA
    courriel : piero [dot] messina [at] esa [dot] int

Information source

  • Piero MESSINA
    courriel : piero [dot] messina [at] esa [dot] int


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« European Space Agency's Space History Conference », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/y7q

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