Dr. Josef Aschbacher
European Space Agency (ESA)
Josef Aschbacher is Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), headquartered in Paris, France, a role he assumed in March 2021.
Born in Austria, he studied at the University of Innsbruck, graduating with a Master’s and a PhD in natural sciences. He has had an accomplished international career in space, combining more than 35 years’ work experience at the European Space Agency, European Commission, Austrian Space Agency, Asian Institute of Technology and University of Innsbruck.
As Chief Executive Officer of ESA, Mr Aschbacher is responsible for the definition, implementation and development of Europe’s space infrastructure and activities, which include launchers, satellites performing Earth observation, navigation, telecommunication and space science together with robotic exploration and ESA astronauts working at the International Space Station. He is responsible for an annual budget of 7 billion euros and a workforce of 5,500 distributed across several establishments, principally in Europe.
When taking up office as Director General of ESA, Mr Aschbacher published a new strategy for space in Europe, called ESA Agenda 2025, aimed at accelerating significantly the use of space in Europe through major new initiatives and programmes.
From 2016–2021 he was ESA Director for Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESA’s ESRIN establishment in Frascati, Italy. He has been a key leader of the European Copernicus Programme, which has grown beyond all expectations and is now considered to be one of the most ambitious and successful Earth Observation programmes in the world. He worked in various functions within ESA from 2001 onwards both in Paris, France and Frascati, Italy. From 1994–2000 he worked at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, in his latest position serving as Scientific Assistant to the Director of the Space Applications Institute. From 1991–1993 he was stationed as ESA Representative in South-East Asia, where he developed projects in the Asian region while, at the same time, working in a full-time academic teaching capacity as Associate Professor at AIT Bangkok.
In 2021, Mr Aschbacher became Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, the highest recognition accorded to non-Italians.
Europe’s Space Ambition with Dr. Josef Aschbacher
Originally aired: April 18, 2023
Symposium Keynote: ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher
Originally aired: August 24, 2021