Jean-Jacques Dordain is currently adviser of Ministry of the Economy in Luxembourg for the SpaceResources initiative. Prior to that Dordain was the sixth Director General of ESA, serving from 2003 to 2015.
He was reappointed twice to the position by the ESA Council. When he joined ESA in 1986, he was appointed Head of the newly set-up Department for the Promotion and Utilisation of the International Space Station. In 1993, he became Associate Director for Strategy Planning and International Policy, then in 1999 he took the position of Director of Strategy and Technical Assessment. In 2001, he became Director of Launchers, and was appointed Director General in July 2003.
While at the helm of ESA, Mr Dordain has presided over a long string of successful Ariane launches carrying important space science missions, such as the Rosetta comet chaser (2004) and the Herschel and Planck cosmic explorers (2009). In addition, a number of key Earth Observation satellites have been put into orbit providing unique data to the scientific communities for understanding and monitoring Earth’s environment and climate change, such as GOCE (2009) to study the Earth’s gravity field, SMOS (2009) to investigate the soil moisture and ocean salinity and Cryosat (2010) to study floating ice in the polar oceans and ice sheets. Proba-V (for Vegetation), a miniaturised satellite to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire planet, was launched on a Vega launcher in early 2013.
In the area of Human Spaceflight and Microgravity, after the launch of the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station in 2008, four Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) docked automatically at the Station, the last three with only a one-year interval.
The first launch of Soyuz from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana (October 2011) and the maiden flight of the Vega small launcher (February 2012) are also listed among the main recent achievements.
Mr Dordain’s leadership has enabled ESA to consolidate and enhance several international partnerships. On the NASA side, he has been key in ensuring the extension of the International Space Station’s operational life to 2020, an extension which on the European side was accompanied by the recruitment of six new astronauts in 2009. This cooperation goes now beyond the Space Station to cover future space exploration: in November 2012, ministers in charge of space gave the green light for Europe to provide the service module of NASA’s new Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle to the Moon and beyond.