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ESA appoints three new directors: for commerce, Earth Observation and Navigation

Geraldine Naja. Photo: ESA

Paris, 22 October 2021. – Three new directors, two more women on board: the European Space Agency (ESA) has appointed Géraldine Naja, Simonetta Cheli, and Francisco-Javier Benedicto Ruiz as new directors at its helm, the agency said.

Géraldine Naja has been appointed to the new position of Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement (D/CIP), based at ESA Headquarters in Paris as of 1 November 2021. The directorate was created in May 2021; Naja will be responsible for elaborating and implementing ESA’s industrial policy, the agency’s procurement rules and policies, and conducting negotiations and managing procurement for all activities and programs.

Simonetta Cheli. Photo: ESA

Simonetta Cheli has been appointed as Director of Earth Observation Programmes and as Head of ESRIN, ESA’s centre for Earth observation in Frascati, Italy. Her responsibilities cover the implementation of all ESA activities in Earth observation and the preparation of new proposals in this area. Simonetta will take up duty on 1 January 2022.

The top job of Director Earth Observation at ESA was vacant since Josef Aschbacher became Director-General of the agency in March 2021.

Javier Benedicto. Photo: ESA

Francisco-Javier Benedicto Ruiz has been appointed as Director of Navigation, responsible for the definition, planning and execution of the Agency’s Navigation programmes, as of 16 February 2022. He succeeds Paul Verhoef and will be based at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.


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