The Council of the European Space Agency has announced that Jean-Jacques Dordain will continue as the Director General of ESA for a further period of four years. Mr Dordain has served as Director General of ESA since 2003. This third mandate extends his term to June 2015.
Mr Dordain’s tenure at ESA includes many important European space milestones. At the end of 2003 he signed the first Framework Agreement between ESA and the European Community, starting a new relationship that continues to build.
The first ESA/EU Space Council took place at the end of 2004, while in January 2005 he witnessed the historic landing of ESA’s Huygens probe on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The launch of Europe’s Venus Express probe followed in November, as ESA expanded with the accession of Greece and Luxemburg.
A remarkable ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level took place in December 2005 in Berlin, when Ministers in charge of Europe’s space activities decided to launch important new programmes such as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative, which has become the EU’s second space flagship. The GIOVE-A first test satellite of the first flagship, the Galileo satellite navigation system, was launched a few weeks later.
In July 2006, ESA’s Council renewed Mr Dordain’s mandate to 1 July 2011. In May 2007 the fourth ESA/EU Space Council adopted a European Space Policy, creating a common political framework for space activities within the EU, ESA and its Member States.
At the end of 2007, Europe’s Transport Ministers reached an agreement on the procurement, structure and governance of the full Galileo programme.
Early 2008 saw the launch of ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station, with two ESA astronauts, and the launch of Europe’s first fully automated resupply vehicle, Jules Verne, to the Station.
An agreement on GMES between the EC and ESA was approved in February, while the second test satellite of the Galileo system was launched in April. In November 2008, the ESA Council at Ministerial level funded new and continuing programmes at almost euros 10 billion, including a significant increase of the Space Science budget.
In 2009, after the launch of the first Earth Explorer mission, GOCE, in March, Mr Dordain selected six new European astronauts. Two current ESA astronauts reached the International Space Station in May and August. European science scored another goal with the joint launch of Herschel and Planck on an Ariane 5 vehicle in May.
The Czech Republic became the 18th ESA Member State in November 2009. In the same month, SMOS was launched to study soil moisture and ocean salinity. At the end of the year, the ExoMars programme was adopted within a long-term cooperation agreement with NASA on the robotic exploration of the Red Planet.
Recent years have also seen important Private Public Partnerships, such as the Hylas satellite with Avanti (GB), Alphasat with Inmarsat (GB) and the Small Geo initiative with Hispasat (ES).
The first half of 2010 has also been marked by important events, including the cooperation agreement with Slovenia, the launch of CryoSat to monitor ice thickness, and the start of a 520-day simulated mission to Mars. The crew of six consists of two Europeans, three Russians and one Chinese.
This period has also seen a steady increase in international cooperation, including NASA (Mars robotic exploration), Russia (Soyuz, to be launched soon from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana), Japan (missions such as BepiColombo to Mercury and EarthCARE), China (a framework agreement and cooperation in the Chang’E mission to the Moon) and India (contribution to the Chadrayaan lunar mission).
Before joining ESA in 1986, Frenchman Jean-Jacques Dordain held several positions at the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales (ONERA): first, from 1970 to 1976, as a researcher in propulsion and launch vehicles; then, from 1976 to 1986, as a coordinator of space activities; and finally, from 1983 to 1986, as Director of Fundamental Physics.
In 1977 he was selected by the French space agency, CNES, as one of the first French astronaut candidates.
When he joined ESA in May 1986, he was appointed Head of the new Space Station and Platforms Promotion and Utilisation Department. He then became Head of the Microgravity and Columbus Utilisation Department, managing about 80 staff and overseeing numerous industrial activities.
In 1993 he was appointed Associate Director for Strategy, Planning and International Policy. In May 1999 he was appointed Director of the new Directorate of Strategy and Technical Assessment. On 15 February 2001 he took up the post of Director of Launchers.
Jean-Jacques Dordain is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and the Academie des Technologies, and an associate member of the Acadmie Royale de Belgique (Royal Academy of Belgium). He has also held professorships at the Ecole Polytechnique, the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Techniques Avancees and l’Ecole Nationale de l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace.
UK Chair for ESA Council
David Williams, Acting Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, will chair the ESA Council for the next year, effective from 1 July.
He was unanimously elected as Chairman of the ESA Council at the 215th ESA Council meeting, held in Paris, France, on 16/17 June. He will take over from Maurici Lucena of Spain.
David Williams leads the UK Space Agency, which manages all UK civil space activities. The UK Space Agency was launched on 1 April, replacing the British National Space Centre (BNSC), where Dr Williams served as Director General from May 2006. In taking up his post at the BNSC, he also became Head of the UK Delegation to ESA.
Before his appointment as Director General of BNSC, David Williams spent 10 years as Head of Strategy and International Relations with Eumetsat. His earlier experience includes previous work in the UK with the BNSC, the Natural Environment Research Council, industry and academia.