Born on 27 October 1944 in Lyon (France), Mr. Gérard BRACHET holds an engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Aéronautique (1967) as well as a Master of Sciences in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington (1968).
He began his professional career in 1970 at the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (the French Space Agency) where he was successively Head of the Orbit Determination and Spacecraft Dynamics Department from 1972 to 1974 in the Brétigny space centre. He then moved to CNES headquarters in Paris and took the position of Head of the Scientific Programmes Division from 1975 to 1978 and Head of the Application Programmes Division from 1979 to 1982.
During this period he helped prepare and implement several major space programmes, both at the European level, in his capacity as French delegate to the European Space Agency, and internationally. In particular he was in 1979 the French signatory for the international SARSAT-COSPAS programme for satellite-based search and rescue and subsequently, chairman of the steering committee for the same programme.
He was also Chairman of the European Space Agency’s Programme Board for Earth observation from 1979 to 1981. In this capacity, he helped define the ERS-1 and ERS-2 Earth observation programmes.
Gérard BRACHET was also directly involved in defining and developing the French SPOT optical observation satellite programme. He took part in the decision to start the programme in 1978 and was principally responsible for setting up the SPOT IMAGE Company which was assigned the task of marketing the images produced by the SPOT series of satellites.
In 1982, Gérard BRACHET left CNES and took the position of Chairman and Chief executive officer of SPOT IMAGE and remained in this function until 1994. In this capacity, he undertook the development of the company which led to the emerging global market for space-based remote sensing imagery.
At the same time he acted several times as an advisor on space matters to the European Commission.
In particular he chaired a group of European experts on satellite-based Earth observation, and in 1991 and 1992 he helped formulate space policy for the European Community.
In late 1994, Gérard BRACHET came back to the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales where he took the position of Director for programmes, planning and industrial policy.
From November 1996 to July 1997, Gérard BRACHET was Chairman of the international “Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)” which gathers 20 space agencies and 7 international organizations with the objective to coordinate Earth observation satellite programmes.
Gérard Brachet was selected by the French Government to take the position of Director General of CNES in July 1997 and held this position till September 2002. During his term, he oversaw the qualification of the European Ariane 5 launcher in its initial version and supervised the successful launch and commissioning of the SPOT-4, Helios 1B, Jason-1 (French-US cooperation) and SPOT-5 satellites. He played a major role in the decision of the “Ariane-5 plus programme” for the development of an augmented version of Ariane 5 and initiated the PLEIADES programme of second generation, dual use, optical observation satellites as part of a cooperation agreement with Italy. He was the head of the French delegation to the Council of the European Space Agency from mid-1999 to mid-2002.
From October 2002 to April 2003, Gérard Brachet advised the French Minister for Research and New Technologies on the Galileo programme.
Since May 2003 onwards, Gérard Brachet has been consulting on space policy issues and space applications for major aerospace companies as well as government and non-government organisations in Europe, in particular the European Commission (DG Research, DG Enterprise) and the European Space Agency. More information on his consulting activities is available on request.
Gérard Brachet chaired the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) for the two-year period from June 2006 to June 2008. During France’s Presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2008, he advised the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on space security policy issues, in particular the development of the first draft of the EU-proposed “International Code of Conduct” for Outer Space activities.
At the beginning of 2012, Gérard Brachet was designated as the French expert within the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) set up by the Secretary General of the United Nations mandated to develop a series of Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs) in Outer Space. The final report of this GGE was submitted to, and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in December 2013.
From 1981 to 1989, Gérard BRACHET was President of the Société Française de Photogrammétrie et de Télédétection (French Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing). In 1992, he received the “Brock Gold Medal Award” of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, which is awarded every four years. He received the Gold Medal of the British Remote Sensing Society in 1994.
He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics since 1992 and chaired its Commission V: “Space policy, law and economics” in 2006-2007. In 2007, Gérard Brachet received the “Social Sciences Award” of the International Academy of Astronautics.
From 2008 to 2012, Gérard Brachet was Vice President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and chaired during this period the IAF Committee on Liaison with International Organizations and Developing Nations (CLIODN). He was designated in 2015 to become Honorary Secretary of the IAF.
Gérard Brachet is a fellow of the Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace/Air and Space Academy and was its President for the period 2009-2010 and then re-elected for a two year period ending in 2012. He had chaired the “Space” committee of the Academy from 2004 to 2008.
Gérard Brachet is « Fellow » of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) since 2013.
Gérard BRACHET is Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur.