Space and democracy

European Space Agency and HAEU – Sala Alcide de Gasperi, Villa Salviati

Festival d’Europa Photo Gallery

Since their development in the mid-20th Century, space activities have played a key role in the balancing of political and technological power among world- and space-leading countries; this role — like the key players in space — has gradually changed and grown through the decades to the extent that today it could be argued that space activities have become an essential driver of and actor in the democratic process. This event has been organised to mark 30 years of cooperation between the European Space Agency and the European University Institute together with the depositing of the ESA archives with the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU). The session will provide an insight into space activities and their role in promoting democracy, with a particular focus on Europe, and will present the new digitised collections of the historical archives of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), joint forerunners of the European Space Agency.



Renaud Dehousse, President, EUI


Signing of Letter of Intent:
Jan Wörner, Director General, ESA
Renaud Dehousse, President, EUI

14:45- 15:45

Elena Grifoni Winters, Head of the Director General’s Cabinet, ESA
Jan Wörner, Director General, ESA
Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, ESA History Project, CNRS
Piero Benvenuti, Commissioner of Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)

15:45 ESA Digital Historical Archives and new collections – Opening ceremony on HAEU web site

15:50 Closure

Jan Wörner, Director General, European Space Agency

Jan Wörner was born in Kassel, Germany, in 1954. He studied civil engineering at the Technical University (TU) Berlin and TU Darmstadt, from where he graduated in 1985. In 1990 he returned to TU Darmstadt, where he was appointed as a professor of Civil Engineering and took over as Head of the Test and Research Institute. Jan Wörner headed the university from 1995 to 2007 and succeeded in making it the first autonomous university of the Federal Republic of Germany. From March 2007 to June 2015, he served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). He became the ESA Director General on 1 July 2015. Jan Wörner has received honorary doctorates from New York State University at Buffalo (USA), technical universities of Bucharest (Romania) and Mongolia, the Saint Petersburg University for Economics and Finance (Russia) and École Centrale de Lyon (France). He has received the Federal Cross of Merit (Officer’s cross, 1st class) of the Federal Republic of Germany for his continuous efforts regarding the next generation of scientists and Germany as a location for Science, Technology and Engineering. He has furthermore been awarded the honours of Knight of the French Légion d’Honneur

Isabelle Sourbès-Verger, Director of Research at Centre Alexandre Koyré

Senior Researcher at the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) in Paris, Isabelle Sourbès-Verger ranks among the few French scholars studying outer space activities. The multidisciplinary perspective retained for these studies owes a lot to her academic background, in both History and Geography. Her post-doctoral research encompassed the geography of outer space, the different forms of occupation of Earth orbits, spacefaring nations’ policies and their interaction. Through this multifaceted experience, she built up a global approach of the scientific, social science and political dimensions of the space conquest. She is currently Director of Research at Centre Alexandre Koyré, a Centre devoted to the history of sciences and technologies since 1957. Her current work focuses on the interface of national public policy and technological ambitions. Based on comparative analysis, it provides an original view on the various models of acquisition and development of national space competences taking into account the specificity of their historical background. She is a member of different international networks and the author of more than 100 papers. ESA Director General nominated her as a member of the ESA History Project Advisory Committee in 2017.

Piero Benvenuti, Commissioner of Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)

Piero Benvenuti was born in 1946 in Conegliano (Italy), where he lives. He is married and has two sons. He has been full professor of High Energy Astrophysics and Director of the Center for Space Studies and Activities “G. Colombo” at the University of Padova. He has been Project Scientist, for the European Space Agency, of the astronomical satellite IUE (Madrid) and of the Hubble Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (Garching bei München). He has been President of the (Italian) National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) and Commissioner of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). He has been General Secretary of the International Astronomical Union from 2015 to 2018. He is now Professor Emeritus of the University of Padova. He is also teaching the Course “Creation and Evolution” at the Theological Faculty of Padova and he is Consultant of the Pontifical Council for Culture.



ContactMicol Visciano, ADG (HAEU)