The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Council announced Dr. Josef Aschbacher as the next Director General of ESA for a period of four years, effective June 2021. 

The new director was announced after ESA’s Ministerial Council meeting on December 17, 2020. Dr Aschbacher, who is currently the ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs and Head of ESA’s center for Earth Observation (also known as the European Space Research Institute or ESRIN), will replace Prof. Jan Wörner. Wörner’s term of office ends on June 30, 2021. 

Dr Aschbacher obtained Masters and PhD degrees in Natural Sciences at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. His career in ESA began in 1990. From 1991 to 1993 he was seconded as ESA Representative to Southeast Asia to the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand.

The new general director has over three decades of experience working in international organizations, including ESA, the European Commission, the Austrian Space Agency, and Asian Institute of Technology.

Vacancy for the post of ESA Director General was announced in June 2020.

“Six years ago I saw a vacancy like this and it changed my life. Here’s the chance for my successor to apply to - in a year from now - lead Europe in Space!” Jan Wörner encouraged applicants for the position of ESA Director General as he prepared to leave the position in June 2021.