A-Z of European Space

The first decades: 1959-1994

  • 1967 - trained as a lawyer (doctoral thesis on space flight and international law), in 1968 joined Swiss government as expert on space affairs in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
  • 1971-1980 - Permanent Swiss Delegate to ESRO and ESA
  • 1980-1997 - Head of the Scientific Affairs Section of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and from 1988, the department's Advisor for European Space Cooperation
  • 1998-2002 - Head of Swiss Space Office
  • 1988-2002 - Head of the Swiss Delegation to ESA

Creola was the longest serving Council member in the history of ESRO and ESA and served as Chairman of many committees and boards: the Administration and Finance Committee from 1972 to 1975, the Legal Working Group on the ESA Convention in 1974 and 1975, the Industrial Policy Committee from 1975 to 1978, the Ariane Programme Board from 1978 to 1981, the Space Debris Working Group in 1989, the negotiations on the renewal of the Ariane production arrangement from 1989 to 1990 and the Long Term Space Policy Committee from 1993 to 2002. He also served a term as Vice-Chair of the ESA Council from 1987 to 1990.

See also: Interview with Peter Creola from the Oral History of Europe in Space Collection

  • 1952 – Doctorate in physics from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris
  • 1950s-60s – Professorship and teaching positions at the Université Pierre e Marie Curie (Paris IV) and the École Normale Supérieure (ENS)
  • 1966-1976 – Various positions in French CNRS: Scientific Director for Physics (1966); Director General (1969); General Delegate for Scientific and Technical Research (1973)
  • 1976-1984 – Head of Centre National d’études spatiales (CNES), the French Space Agency
  • 1979-1984 – Founder and Chairman of the European Science Foundation
  • 1981-1984 – Chairman of ESA Council
  • 1984-1986 and 1988-1993 –Minister of Research in the French government
  • 1994-1996 – Chairman of CERN Council
  • 1998-2000 – President of the Fondation de France
  • 2001-2003 – President of the French Academy of Science

An enduring theme throughout Curien’s long and varied career in science, politics and management was his promotion and development of a European scientific cooperation. As President of the Centre National d’études spatiales (CNES), he oversaw the development of the Ariane launcher, which successfully completed its maiden flight in December 1979 and the creation of Arianespace. Regarded as the father of the European space programme since that time, Curien also headed ESA as Chairman from 1981 to 1984, and his diplomatic skills played a critical role in the creation of ESA's flagship space science programme at the meeting of Council at Ministerial level in Rome in 1985. The landing site of the Huygens probe (on Saturn’s moon Titan) was named the Hubert Curien Memorial Station in honour of his contribution to European space.

See also: interview with Hubert Curien from the Oral History of Europe in Space Collection

  • French aeronautical engineer, educated at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Aéronautique
  • 1966-1970 – worked for CNES, responsible for the propulsion motor of the first stage of the Diamant B launcher
  • 1970-1972 – seconded to ELDO as Project Manager on the Europa 3 project for a large new launcher
  • 1973-1980 - rejoined CNES as Head of the Ariane programme (1973-1976) and later its Director (1976-1980)
  • 1980-1990 - founder and Chairman/CEO of Arianespace
  • 1982-1989 - Director General of CNES and, from 1985-1989, French Delegate to the ESA Council
  • 1990 - joined the industrial group Matra as President and Director

After a period at ELDO in the early 1970s working on its Europa 3 project, D’Allest returned to CNES in 1973 as Head of the Ariane programme, the new heavy expendable launcher series which CNES directed for ELDO/ESA. He directed the Ariane programme from 1976, overseeing the first Ariane launch in 1979, and founded Arianespace in 1980 for the production and commercialisation of the Ariane launcher.

  • 1951 - Research Associate in the Department of Electronics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, research in cosmic radiation, plasma physics, magnetohydrodynamics and high current discharges
  • 1963 - Scientific Assistant for COPERS
  • 1968 - ESRO Assistant Director for Forecasts and Programmes, becoming Head of Space Missions Division in 1974
  • 1976-1988 - various management roles within ESA: Deputy Director/Director of Planning, Head of the Coordination and Monitoring Office, Associate Director for Policy and Coordination

Dattner was recruited by COPERS in 1963 as Assistant to the Director General and to the Scientific Director and in 1968 he was appointed Assistant Director for Forecasts and Programmes in ESRO’s Directorate of Programmes and Planning. In April 1974 he became Head of Space Missions Division, on a temporary basis, a responsibility confirmed by the ESA Council. In 1976 he was nominated Deputy Director in charge of planning within ESA’s Directorate of Planning and Future Programmes, and was acting Director from May 1980. In February 1981 he became Head of the Coordination and Monitoring Office and from 1985 until his retirement in 1988 he was Associate Director for Policy and Coordination. Following the signature of the deposit agreement between ESA and the European University Institute, Dattner was also involved in the first inventory, made after the first transfer of ESA documentation to the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence.

  • 1937 – Joined the French Embassy in London
  • 1947-1949 – French representative to the UN Atomic Energy Commission in the US
  • 1950s – Member of the French National Committee for Nuclear Energy; Head of the Department for Atomic issues and Head of the Treaties Department for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 1954 – One of the founding fathers of CERN, becoming France’s delegate to the CERN Council
  • 1958-1960 – President of CERN Council
  • 1963 – Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, later becoming Deputy Chairman
  • 1964-1969 – French Ambassador to Portugal
  • 1970-1974 – Permanent Representative of France to NATO Council

After beginning his diplomatic career in London, in the post-war years, de Rose was sent to the US to serve on the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, where he met European physicists, including Pierre Auger, and later embarked on a tour of Europe to appeal for the creation of the first European organisation for fundamental research. He presided over the 1951 intergovernmental conference, organised in Paris by Auger, at which the first resolution for the creation of a European Council for Nuclear Research was adopted. CERN was established by 12 European states in 1954. During his mandate as President of CERN Council he helped to prepare the laboratory’s extension into French territory. De Rose subsequently continued to pursue his diplomatic career and was well-known as a specialist in defence and nuclear matters.

  • Educated at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris (1956), Ecole d’Application in Saumur (1958), Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Armement at Arcueil (1959-1961)
  • 1961-1964 – Military engineer at Arcueil and Colomb-Bechar
  • 1964-1967 – Chief Engineer at Norbert Beyrard
  • 1967-1973 – Head of Department, Deputy Director and Director (1971-1973) of the CNES Guiana Space Centre
  • 1971 – INSEAD Advanced Management Program at Stanford University (USA)
  • 1973-1975 – French Chief Executive of the Franco-German Symphonie satellite programme
  • 1975-1978 – ESA’s Director of Spacelab
  • 1979-1985 – Director General of Satel Conseil
  • 1985-1990 – Director of the Hermes Programme at Aerospatiale
  • 1991-1999 – Deputy Director General of Alcatel Espace (1991-1999); Consulting Engineer in Space Systems (1999)

See also: Interview with Bernard Deloffre from the Oral History of Europe in Space Collection


  • French astronomer and pioneer of radio astronomy
  • 1954-1968 - Astronomer and then Director of the Paris Observatory
  • 1967 -1973 - President of CNES
  • 1968-1971 - Director of the National Institute for Astronomy and Geophysics, now National Institute of Sciences of the Universe (INSU)
  • 1976-1981 - Head of Research at the Ministry of Universities
  • 1970s - Committee member or consultant for many other scientific organisations, including President of the Committee for Space Research (COSPAR) from 1978 to 1982

Denisse was President of CNES during the period of the first generation of ESRO satellites, the TD and ESRO series. Under his tenure, France also undertook the Symphonie telecommunications satellite project in collaboration with Germany and was involved in the set-up of Meteosat and the formation of ESA.

  • 1948 - Doctorate in law from Brussels University
  • 1950-1988 – served in the Belgian diplomatic service: Belgian embassy in Washington (1952-55); in Brussels as Assistant to the Belgian Commissioner for Atomic Energy; Secretary to the Belgian embassy in Moscow (1957-1960); Director of the Scientific Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (early 1960s); Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels (1971-1974); Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in the Belgian Embassy in Rome (1974-1976); Ambassador to Singapore (1976-1979); Ambassador to Japan (1985-1988); Permanent Representative to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva (1984-1985)  
  • 1960 – Member of the Belgian Delegation which signed the Meyrin Agreement, establishing COPERS
  • 1967-1971 - ESRO Director of Administration  
  • 1988 - On retiring from the diplomatic service, served in various representative, advisory and consultant capacities

As Director of the Scientific Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Depasse headed the Belgian delegation to the ESRO and ELDO negotiations.  From 1962 to 1966 he was closely associated with ELDO as the head of the Executive Secretariat of the ELDO Preparatory Committee, and once it was formally established, became its Director of Administration.  
He played an important role in Belgium becoming party to the ELDO and ESRO Conventions and in Belgian industrial and scientific cooperation with them. Within ELDO he was at the heart of establishing the Secretariat structure, recruitment of staff, development of personnel, finance, contracts and regulations. Within ESRO he ensured the smooth transition between the Auger and Bondi directorships, when the redefinition of the scientific programme, review of its operations (the Bannier enquiry and report) and financial difficulties had created doubts about its ability to survive.

  • 1950s-60s – Studied at the universities of Berkeley and Columbia in New York Degree in Maritime and Aeronautical Engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique
  • 1954-1960 – Chief Engineer in the Naval Engineers of the French Navy in Toulon
  • 1960-1962 - Ecole Polytechnique, Assistant to Director of Studies.
  • 1962-1964 - Director of the Bretigny Technical Establishment for CNES
  • 1964-1967 - Assistant to the Director General, then Technical and Administrative Inspector, CNES
  • 1967 –1974 - ESRO Director of Programmes and Planning
  • 1974-1972 – Deputy Director (1974-1979) and Director-General of the European Joint Research Centre (1982)


  • 1986 – Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Aeronáuticos at the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid
  • 1986-1992 - joined the Grupo Mecánica del Vuelo and worked at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt
  • 1992 – Joined the ESA Astronaut Corps, ESA Astronaut on two missions from 1998 to 2003
  •  2006-2011 – Leave from ESA to lead Deimos Imaging as Managing Director and Executive President
  •  2018-2021 – Minister for Science, Innovation and Universities for the Spanish Government
  •  2018-2019 – Chairman of the ESA Intermediate Ministerial Meeting (IMM18) at ESAC (25 October 2018); Chairman of the 280th ESA Council and Co-Chairman of the ninth EU/ESA Space Council in Brussels (28 May 2019)
  • 2022 – Joined the Board of the European aerospace company Destinus

Until 1992, Duque’s work at ESOC involved developing models for orbit determination and algorithms, and implementing orbit computation software. He was also part of the Flight Control Team for ESA’s ERS-1 satellite and Eureca, the European Retrievable Carrier. In 1992, he was selected to join ESA’s Astronaut Corps, completing the basic training at EAC and the Russian Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City. He returned to Star City in 1993 to train for the ESA–Russian EuroMir-94 mission, during which he was the prime Crew Interface Coordinator in the Russian Mission Control Centre in Moscow.

In 1995, NASA selected him as an Alternate Payload Specialist for the STS-78 Space Shuttle Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission that flew in June 1996. During the mission, he was one of the two Crew Interface Coordinators. He subsequently flew as Mission Specialist on STS-95 in 1998 (dedicated to research in weightlessness and the study of the Sun) and in 2003 on the Cervantes mission on the ISS (as Flight Engineer on Soyuz-TMA as part of Expedition 8 and landing back on Earth as part of Expedition 7).

Among other responsibilities for ESA, he supported the Module Projects Division in the Directorate of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity and worked on Europe’s Columbus laboratory and the Cupola module on the International Space Station as crew support. From 2011 he headed the Flight Operations Office and from 2015, was responsible for the control and review of future ESA projects within the Astronaut Corps.