Two Swiss take on important roles at the European Space Agency ESA

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Renato Krpoun, Head of the Swiss Space Office at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, will be the first Swiss to chair the ESA Council at delegate level. The two-year term of Renato Krpoun will start from 1st July 2023. Daniel Neuenschwander, Director of Space Transportation since mid-2016, will take over responsibility for the Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate as from 1st July 2023.

The Council of the European Space Agency ESA at delegate level made this decision at its meeting on 23 March 2023. It is the agency’s governing body, in which each of the 22 Member States is represented. The Council takes the key decisions that provide the framework in which ESA develops and implements the European space programme.

Renato Krpoun has been representing Switzerland in the ESA Council at delegate level for several years and is currently the Vice-Chair. In his role as Chair, one of his main tasks will be to steer the work of the Council and ensure the preparation of its decisions in close cooperation with the Member States and with the ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. He will be supported by Miguel Belló Mora (Spain) and Frank Monteny (Belgium), the newly elected vice-chairs. Renato Krpoun will keep his responsibilities as Head of the Swiss Space Office at the SERI.

In his new role as ESA Director for Human and Robotic Exploration, Daniel Neuenschwander will be responsible for an extensive programme portfolio. This includes various missions, including to ESA’s three strategic exploration destinations: Low Earth Orbit, Moon and Mars. The ESA astronaut corps is also part of this directorate.

ESA is an independent intergovernmental agency and has Switzerland as a founding member. The ESA Council at ministerial level is currently presided by Germany. At the ESA Council at ministerial level in November 2022, the Member States supported ESA’s ambitions to increase Europe’s autonomy in space, to accelerate the use of space in Europe and to strengthen the key role of ESA and of its programmes.