Antonio Rodotà, an Italian, is today taking over as head of the 14-nation European Space Agency. Appointed for a period of four years, he will see ESA into the 21st century, succeeding the French Director General, Jean-Marie Luton, who has been in charge for almost seven years, since 1 October 1990.
At 61, Mr Rodotà has had many years' experience in industry as Director of the Space Division of Finmeccanica (Italy), Managing Director of Quadrics Supercomputer World Ltd (Italy/UK) and as a member of the boards of several international companies, including Arianespace.
Mr Rodotà graduated from Rome University in electronic engineering in 1959 and began his career with SISPRE S.p.A. (Italy). In 1965/66 he spent a year as Italian delegate at NATO in Paris, then moved back to Italy for a long period with Selenia (1966/80), followed by three years as head of Compagnia Nazionale Satelliti (Italy). In 1983 he moved to Alenia Spazio (now Alenia Aerospazio), where he held a series of senior positions before becoming Chief Executive in 1995.
"It is a real challenge but interest in the space sector is increasing all over the world and I see a rosy future for ESA. It must adapt to the rapid changes that are taking place and must also continue to play its part in supporting industry. This collective effort will guarantee that it has a bright future" said Mr Rodotà.
At its last meeting held in Paris on 25 June, the ESA Council, on the recommendation of the Director General, extended the term of office of Mr Fredrik Engström, Director of Launchers, for a further two years to the end of September 2000.
Council also offered Mr Jörg Feustel-Büechl, Director of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity, a further four-year mandate.