William E. Boeing Distinguished Lecture 2008

Event Date: April 10, 2008
Speaker: Dr. Sigmar Wittig
Sponsor: School of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Time: 10:30AM
Location: Eliza Fowler Hall, Stewart Center
Sigmar headshot

Space Policy in an Enlarged European Union

Dr. Sigmar Wittig
Chairman em. German Aerospace Center

Space Sciences are commonly recognized as major contributors to the development of modern societies – economically, technologically as well as culturally.
This is the accepted foundation of the European Space Policy and led to the organization of ESA; the European Space Agency – in 1975. Due to the recent enlargement of the European Union to 27 member states, several new countries are interested in joining ESA. This necessitates an organizational restructuring. The major tasks, however, are the coordination of individual national goals and programs and the international cooperation. Based on the members' industrial and scientific infrastructure as well as their budget contributions to the major programs such as Earth Observation, Science and Extraterrestrics, Launchers and Human Space Program national interests have to be balanced.

Sigmar Wittig, chairman emeritus of the board of the German Aerospace Center and former chairman of the council of the European Space Agency, received his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering in 1967 from RWTH Aachen in Germany. For the next nine years, he served on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Purdue University, teaching thermal sciences and fluid mechanics. Wittig, a leading authority and expert in gas turbine technology, left Purdue in 1976 and returned to Germany to join the University of Karlsruhe as chair of the Institute for Thermal Turbomachinery.

In 1989, he was named vice president (prorektor) of the University of Karlsruhe and vice president of the German National Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). He served as president of the university from 1994 to 2002. In 2002, the German government named Wittig chairman of the board of the German Aerospace Center, the equivalent of NASA. He served as chairman of the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) from 2005 through 2007.

Wittig holds honorary doctorate degrees from universities in Germany, Russia, Greece, Hungary, and from Purdue University. He is a member of several Academies of Science such as the Leopoldina and the International Academy of Astronautics. He has received internationally recognized awards and prizes and was honored by the French Government with the “Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur” as well as with the “Order of Merit” (Bundesverdienstkreuz) by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Wittig is a member of several industrial boards and governmental advisory groups, including the Industrial Advisory Board of Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.