PARIS — The 18-nation European Space Agency (ESA) on June 17 announced that Jean-Jacques Dordain has been elected to a third four-year term as director-general.

Dordain, who for months has been talking about his planned June 2011 departure from the agency, will now stay on until June 2015.

Among the challenges Dordain has cited for the agency, beyond the immediate difficulties of navigating through a period of government budget cutbacks in Europe, will be the developing relations with the European Commission, the executive body of the 27-nation European Union.

Whether ESA, currently an independent intergovernmental organization, ultimately will become a part of the European Union is one of the issues likely to take years to resolve.

Dordain’s re-election became a foregone conclusion in recent weeks when the German government, whose turn it was to select an ESA director-general, was unable to settle on its own candidate. Germany backed Dordain, who is French, hoping that in four years a German candidate can be found who will win approval of ESA’s other governments.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.