Plenary 4: The Game Changers – for a Joint Future in Space

Tuesday 2 October 2018, 13:30 – 14:30

Location: Bremen Conference Center – DLR Hall


Claudia Kessler, founder of the Astronautin initiative, will lead a discussion panel with women in leading space roles from politics, industry and international institutions. The all-female panel will be discussing their vision for the future of space. The topics of this panel will include the future of human spaceflight, opportunities in space exploration, and the impact of policies such as the United Nations Sustainability Agenda or EU Space Strategy on society and the planet.

The unique insights and experiences gained by the participants through achieving excellence in their respective professional fields promise an inspirational and engaging debate. The event is set out to open with a short statement from each panelist, followed by questions from Ms. Kessler and the audience.



Claudia Kessler


First German Astronaut Foundation,





Full Bio

Claudia Kessler is one of the few female leaders in the European space sector. Qualified as an aerospace engineer with an MBA, Claudia Kessler has worked for more than 30 years in the international space environment.

During her purposeful career, she built up an international network to global players in the space industry worldwide.

She is the founder of “Astronautin gGmbH”, a non-profit organisation with the goal to fly the first German female astronaut into space and to inspire girls for technical

Since 2008 Claudia is CEO of HE Space Holding B.V. with offices in the Netherlands and Germany. Claudia has built up the company to become one of the most significant suppliers of engineering services to the space industry. HE Space is specialized in personnel recruitment with an exclusive focus on the space sector.

In 2009, Claudia Kessler together with Simonetta di Pippo founded the network Women in Aerospace Europe (WIA-E). The organisation is well established in Europe now with more than 500 members. She continues to support female executives in their career development.

Furthermore, she is a member of the senate of the German Aerospace Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DGLR) and of the plenary of the chamber of commerce of Bremen.

Claudia Kessler lives in Bremen, is married and mother of a 20-year-old daughter.




Pascale Ehrenfreund

Chair of the Executive Board,

German Aerospace Center (DLR),



Full Bio

Pascale Ehrenfreund is the Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The German Aerospace Center is among the largest centers for aerospace in Europe with more than 8200 employees at 40 institutes and 20 locations in Germany. Since two decades she contributed as Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator and Teamleader to ESA and NASA astronomy and planetary missions as well as experiments in low Earth orbit and on the International Space Station. Her research experience and interest range from biology to astrophysics. Pascale Ehrenfreund is also Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute/George Washington University in Washington DC. From 2013-2015 she was President of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Pascale Ehrenfreund holds a Master degree in Molecular Biology, a PhD in Astrophysics, and a Master degree in Management & Leadership. The asteroid “9826 Ehrenfreund 2114 T-3” bears her name.


Elżbieta Bieńkowska

European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs,

European Commission,



Full Bio

Elżbieta Bieńkowska – since 1 November 2014 – EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs in the European Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker.

Between 2007 and 2013 she was the Minister for Regional Development of Poland and from 2013 to 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Poland. As the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Infrastructure and Development she was in charge of the strategic development system of the country, including the effective investment of the European funds.

Her work resulted in the full absorption of the EU funds from the budget for 2004-2006 and the successful distribution of almost EUR 68 billion granted to Poland for the years 2007-2013. She was managing the process of the preparation of the efficient EU funds implementation system from the EU budget for the years 2014-2020. Apart from the European funds her tasks in the Polish Government included also the management of transport infrastructure (roads, railway, air traffic and ship transport) and issues related to construction and housing. Before from 1999 to 2007 she was working for the local government of the Silesia Region in Southern Poland. A graduate of the Jagiellonian University. She also graduated from the Polish National School of Public Administration and completed the business administration post graduate studies at the Warsaw School of Economics. Married, with three children.


Simonetta Di Pippo


United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA),



Full Bio

Simonetta Di Pippo is the Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is mandated to enhance international cooperation in space activities to promote their use for humanity. Prior to joining UNOOSA in 2014, she was Head of the European Space Policy Observatory at Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) in Brussels. Ms. Di Pippo also served as Director of Human Spaceflight of the European Space Agency from 2008 to 2011, and Director of the Observation of the Universe at ASI from 2002 to 2008, where she started her career in 1986. She has been an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) since 2013, and since 2016 a member of the IAA Board of Trustees.  Ms. Di Pippo is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on space technology starting from 2016.

Ms Di Pippo holds a Master’s Degree in Astrophysics and Space Physics from University “La Sapienza” in Rome, an Honoris Causa Degree in Environmental Studies from St. John University, and an Honoris Causa Degree of Doctor in International Affairs from John Cabot University. Ms. Di Pippo was knighted by the President of the Italian Republic in 2006. In 2008, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 21887 “Dipippo” in honour of her contribution to space activities.


Grazia Vittadini

Chief Technology Officer (CTO),

Airbus Defence and Space,



Full Bio

Airbus appointed Grazia Vittadini, 48, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and join the company’s Executive Committee as of 1 May 2018. Before her appointed CTO position, Grazia Vittadini was serving as Executive Vice President of Engineering within Airbus Defence and Space. She succeeds Paul Eremenko, who left the company at the end of 2017.

Italian-born Grazia Vittadini was appointed to her position at Airbus Defence and Space in January 2017, where she was serving as a Member of the divisional Executive Committee. Prior to assuming this role, she was Head of Corporate Audit & Forensics, responsible for all companywide audit activities worldwide.

An engineer by education, with a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University Politecnico di Milano, Grazia Vittadini joined Airbus in 2002 and quickly climbed the management ranks. Among others, she served as Chief Engineer on the Wing High Lift Devices for the A380 in Bremen as well as Head of Airframe Design and Technical Authority for all Airbus aircraft, based out of Hamburg.


Lisa B. Callahan

Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Civil Space,

Lockheed Martin Space,

United States


Full Bio

Lisa B. Callahan is Vice President and General Manager of the Commercial Civil Space line of business for Lockheed Martin Space. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of execution and growth for Commercial and Civil markets in human and robotic deep space exploration, communications and weather and remote sensing. Ms. Callahan is also responsible for Michoud Operations and related activity at Stennis Space Center.

In her previous role as Vice President of Corporate Internal Audit of Lockheed Martin Corporation – reporting directly to the Lockheed Martin Audit Committee of the Board of Directors – Ms. Callahan provided independent, objective assurance and advisory activity to improve the Corporation’s operations. Under her leadership, Corporate Internal Audit determined the adequacy and effectiveness of the Corporation’s network of risk management, internal control, and governance processes as designed and represented by management.

Her prior leadership roles also include Vice President and General Manager of the Mission Systems & Training Undersea Systems line of business for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Vice President of Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Maritime Ballistic Missile Defense Program, and Program Director for Lockheed Martin’s Simulation Training and Support business.

Ms. Callahan graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Currently, she is a member of the Dean of Engineering Advisory Board.