15 June 2018

Spain's new Minister of Science

"Pedro Duque earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) in 1986. He worked for GMV and for the European Space Agency (ESA) for six years before being selected as an astronaut candidate in 1992. Duque underwent training in both Russia and the United States. His first spaceflight was as a mission specialist aboard space shuttle mission STS-95, during which Duque supervised ESA experimental modules. In October 2003, Duque visited the International Space Station for several days during a crew changeover. The scientific program of this visit was called by ESA/Spain Misión Cervantes.
He has worked at the UPM, in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Aeronáuticos, and at Deimos Imaging. Currently he is back as an astronaut of ESA, and leads the Flight Operations Office near Munich.

On 6 June 2018, he was named Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities of the Government of Spain.  (via)
The United States doesn't have a Minister of Science.  We do, however, have a congressioinal Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  It "has jurisdiction over all energy research... astronautical research and development, including resources, personnel, equipment, and facilities; civil aviation research and development; environmental research and development; marine research... National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; National Weather Service; outer space, including exploration and control thereof..."

This committee is chaired by Lamar Smith, who has decades of experience as... an attorney and politician; he was formerly a contributor to Breitbart News, and tweeted an article from that source denying climate change.  The vice-chairman is a politician with experience in politics.  Maybe there's someone on the committee with experience in science.  I just don't have time to spend on a fruitless search.

Congratulations, Spain.


  1. To be fair, Spain has (if wikipedia is accurate) 2 scientific Nobel laureates. The US has 335.

    I appreciate the optics of this, but I'm curious as to the actual impact of the two different positions/organizations; this may very well be a symbolic position.

  2. Marc Garneau, a Canadian astronaut, is our federal Minister of Transportation while Julie Payette, also a Canadian astronaut, is our Governor General.

    I will be keeping a close eye on the career of the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, who delivered a most interesting speech rebuking Trump and noting the threat to liberal democracies. I don't know how much coverage of her remarks occurred in the US -- and if it was covered, whether it solely focused on the tariffs issues or expanded to include her statements on the threat to liberal democracies.

    If you're interested, the text of her speech can be found here:


  3. France had Claudie Haigneré, fist European woman on board the ISS and science minister 2002 to 2004 IIRC.


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