Microgravity takes a seat at the Government in Spain
The Spanish ESA astronaut Pedro Duque has been appointed as the Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities in the cabinet formed by the new Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Pedro Sánchez
This appointment has received a welcome from the scientific community, after suffering a severe constraint of the science policy during the period of economic crisis. The implementation of a new Department specifically devoted to these matters is looked as a sign of revitalization.
Pedro Duque belongs to the European Astronaut Corps and he has participated in two missions in space. His first experience was in the STS-95 “Discovery” space shuttle mission in 1998, and then he was one of the early passengers of the International Space Station (ISS), in the course of the “Cervantes” Spanish Soyuz Mission in 2003. In that 10-day mission, Pedro Duque performed an intense program of 24 European microgravity experiments in different disciplines, namely Human Physiology, Physics, Technology, Earth Observation and Biology, some of them with educational purposes. Among them, the “Root” experiment was the first European experiment on Plant Biology in the ISS.
After his space experience, Pedro Duque has been Director of the Spanish E-USOC, Executive Director of the Company “Deimos Imaging”, which launched the first commercial Spanish satellite for Earth Observation, Director of ESA-ISS Flight Operations and recently he has worked in the Astronaut Corps with responsibility for future ESA projects.
As microgravity scientists, we look at this appointment as an opportunity to boost the progress of space science in Spain, the Spanish participation in ESA projects and activities, and the social perception of our scientific work.