[Via Satellite 02-04-2015] Estonia, a member state of the European Union (EU) has taken a critical step toward membership in the European Space Agency (ESA). On Feb. 4, the country’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications — who leads foreign trade and entrepreneurship — Anne Sulling, along with Ene Ergma, head of the Estonian Space Committee, and Sven Jürgenson, Estonian ambassador in France, joined ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain at the agency’s Paris headquarters to sign the Accession Agreement to the ESA Convention. The government of Estonia is expected to complete the ratification process later this year, after which the ratification instrument will be deposited with the French government, making Estonia the 21st ESA member state.
Estonia began collaborating with ESA in 2007 with the signing of a cooperation agreement. In 2009 the country signed the European Cooperating State Agreement, and in 2013 the country’s first satellite, the University of Tartu-built ESTCube 1 technology demonstrator launched aboard an Arianespace Vega rocket. ESA anticipates Hungary will soon join the agency as well.