It is with deep regret and a very great sadness that we announce the passing of Harald Posch, the Chair of the ESA Council, on Thursday 21 May in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. He was aged 60. 

The death of Harald Posch leaves an immense void and is a tremendous loss to his family, to our Agency and to the European space community as a whole. His contribution to Europe’s efforts in space cannot be overstated. He was a great servant of ESA, of Europe’s space community and, of course, of his homeland, Austria, and we will miss him dearly.

Harald Posch’s career in the space sector spanned more than three decades, first in industry with Austrian Aerospace and Österreichische Raumfahrt- und Systemtechnik GmbH, then in governmental service. 

Since 2005, he led Austria’s Aeronautics and Space Agency, part of the Research Promotion Agency, the FFG. In this function, he was key in shaping Austria’s engagement in space and represented his country in international forums and organisations. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna, and served as Chair of its General Assembly since its inception. 

Within ESA, too, Harald Posch held the most prominent of roles, in particular those of Industrial Policy Committee (IPC) Chair and, from 1 July 2014, Chair of Council. In this latter function, he played a central role in the preparation of last year’s Council meeting at ministerial level in Luxembourg.

Upon hearing the sad news, ESA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said, “ESA is once again mourning the loss of a dear friend, a warm-hearted, dedicated person, known for his integrity, who was an example to all who knew him. Harald was able to lead different governing bodies within ESA, such as the Industrial Policy Committee and the Council, with authority but always with a smile, and in a balanced way. We are privileged to have worked alongside him and are grateful for the very great contribution he made to this Agency and to the European space community more generally. Our thoughts in these extremely sad times are, of course, with his family.”

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space. 

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. 

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have signed Accession Agreements to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States. 

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. 

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes. 

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. 

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, Navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. 

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