EU Space Forum - Banner

Austrian Space Forum awards Claudia Kessler with the Polarsternpreis – Polar Star Award 2019

OeWF-board member Reinhard Tlustos and award winner Claudia Kessler at the ceremony in Bremen; credit: OeWF

The award honours the co-founder of “Women in Aerospace Europe” and founder of the initiative “The first female German Astronaut, Claudia Kessler.

On November 21st the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) for the eleventh time payed tribute to a person for their outstanding accomplishments to inspire others in the space community. This year the OeWF honours Claudia Kessler and her remarkable commitment to further careers of female experts and executives in the spaceflight sector. The aerospace engineer co-founded the international network “Women in Aerospace Eurpe” and in 2016 launched “Die erste deutsche Astronautin“ – “The first female German Astronaut”, an initiative dedicated to bring the first German women to the International Space Station by 2021. The awarding ceremony was held at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany.

“Through the Polar Star Award the Austrian Space Forum honours outstanding personalities and their exceptional commitment to inspire people in the space sector,” said Reinhard Tlustos, board-member of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), at the ceremony in Bremen and stressed Claudia Kessler’s exemplary dedication to encourage and promote women in the spaceflight sector, “Claudia Kessler has always made a point to further the equality of men and women in aerospace. During her time as CEO of HE Space the rate of female employees in engineering rose to 55%. She then founded Women in Aerospace Europe that has proven to be an effective networking platform for female technicians and executives. Her latest initiative “The first female German Astronaut” is again exemplary and will undoubtedly inspire and encourage young women to persue an education and career in STEM.”

“I watched the first man landing on the moon when I was four and since then I’ve been fascinated by space exploration and the remarkable job astronauts do. But it has always been equally important to me to bring more women into the spaceflight sector. I believe a female astronaut to be the perfect role model and inspiration for all the girls and women who are considering a career in science or engineering. So when in 2016 there still hadn’t been a German woman to space I decided to accept this challenge and founded ‘The first female German astronaut’ “, said award winner Claudia Kessler and continued, “This project is funded by private donations and will have the first female German astronaut to set off on a mission to the ISS by 2021.“

About Claudia Kessler

Claudia Kessler is an Aerospace Engineer and Master of Business Administration. She has more than 30 years experience of working in the space business and is a member of the senate of the German Aerospace Society (DGLR) and member of the plenum of the Bremen Chamber of Commerce.

In 2009 she co-founded „Women in Aerospace Europe“, an international network to further the careers of female professionals in the aerospace sector. From 2004 to 2018 Claudia Kessler was CEO of HE Space Operations which specialises in personnel recruitment for space agencies and space industry.

In 2016 she founded the initiative “Die erste deutsche Astronautin“ – “The first female German astronaut”. Out of 400 highly qualified applicants Dr. Insa Thiele-Eich and Dr. Suzanna Randall were chosen. In 2021 one of them will be the first German woman to travel to the ISS.

For her commitment to further the careers of female executives Claudia Kessler was awarded the Soroptimist Germany Award 2019 and the Edition F Award as entrepreneur of the year 2018.

About the Polar Star Award

The Polarsternpreis (Polar Star Award) is a tribute to people who inspire others in the space community. Each year, since 2009, the Austrian Space Forum has awarded the Polarsternpreis for remarkable accomplishments to those who have shown extraordinary personal commitment, work on outstanding projects or foster forward-looking ideas.


(Österreichisches Weltraum Forum, OeWF)

The Austrian Space Forum is one of the world’s leading institutions conducting Mars analog missions, thus paving the way for the future human exploration of the Red Planet. Experts from a broad variety of disciplines as well as the spaceflight sector constitute the core of the OeWF’s continued endeavors that on a regular basis include national and international institutions from science and industry to work at the cutting edge of scientific research. On doing so the Austrian Space Forum is using its excellent contacts to opinion leaders, politics and media to further and internationally propagate Austrian top-level research. The Austrian Space Forum also contributes significantly to inspiring and educating young people in the sectors of science, technology and engineering. The OeWF offers internships to students and pupils, its experts supervise scientific papers on a regular basis.

Check Also

SERA and NASRDA Partner to Send First Nigerian to Space

The Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA) and the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) today announced a groundbreaking partnership to send the first Nigerian into space. Under the partnership, SERA will reserve a seat on an upcoming Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital spaceflight for a Nigerian citizen as part of a broader SERA-led initiative, in partnership with Blue Origin, to send six individuals from nations historically underrepresented in space exploration.