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Lift off Swiss scientist lands major space rocket job

ESA is already developing the new version of Ariane 5, which blasted off earlier this month

(Keystone)

The head of Switzerland’s space programme, Daniel Neuenschwander, has been handed a key position at the European Space Agency (ESA) as director of launching systems. His department will develop parts of the Ariane 6 space rocket.

Neuenschwander, currently head of the space department at Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), was voted in to his new ESA role on Wednesday. He has occupied his Swiss role for the last seven years while heading the Swiss delegation to the ESA.

He is the first Swiss person to be elected to such a prominent role at the ESA, which was founded in 1975 to coordinate Europe’s space programmes. The agency has an overall annual budget of €5.2 billion (CHF5.7 billion, $5.77 billion). Neuenschwander’s department is responsible for 20% of that budget – more than €1 billion.

On Monday, the ESA launched its ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, carrying the Swiss-made CaSSIS camera for taking high resolution images of the surface of Mars.

Switzerland has co-chaired the ESA with Luxembourg since 2012. The chairmanship will change hands in December.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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