Italy heads European Space Agency

Nov. 25, 2008 at 6:07 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The 18 member states of the European Space Agency plus Canada have decided in the Netherlands that Italy will head the agency until 2011.

The countries decided during a two-day meeting that began Tuesday that Italy, a founding member of the ESA and currently the third-largest contributor to the 33-year-old agency, should run the space program until a new country is chosen in 2011, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italian Education and Research Minister Mariastella Gelmini said after her appointment as head of the ESA's Council of Ministers that the agency needs to continue pursuing space research as Chinese and Indian space programs emerge as competitors.

''I think our priority goal is to show the world that Europe has the maturity and capacity to share a policy and strategy for space use ... for the welfare of our communities,'' Gelmini said.

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