Thursday 21 November during a ceremony at CNES Headquarters, IAF Past President and Honorary Ambassador Jean-Yves Le Gall presented Pascale Ehrenfreund, IAF President, with the insignia of Knight of the Legion of Honour on behalf of Frédérique Vidal, Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

Pascale Ehrenfreund is an astrophysicist who obtained her PhD in 1990 from the University of Paris VII and the University of Vienna. She subsequently pursued her post-doctoral research in the Netherlands with the European Space Agency (ESA) and then in France with a grant from CNES to work at the SA aeronomy research laboratory of the national scientific research centre CNRS in Verrières-le-Buisson on an instrument for the Huygens probe.

Pascale Ehrenfreund then occupied several posts as Professor of Astrobiology at European universities. In 2005, she was Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In 2008, she was appointed Lead Investigator at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, where she worked on the OREOS exobiology microsatellite. The same year, she joined the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University (GWU) as Research Professor for Space Policy and International Affairs.

In 2015, Pascale Ehrenfreund was appointed by the German government to the prestigious post of Chair of the Executive Board of DLR, one of the main agencies of the Helmholtz Association of research centres (HGF) charged with promoting German research. DLR comprises 40 research institutes employing some 8,500 people, more than 4,000 of them research scientists. Most recently, Pascale Ehrenfreund succeeded Jean-Yves Le Gall in October as President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), headquartered in Paris.

On the occasion of this ceremony, Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “This award of the Legion of Honour to Pascale Ehrenfreund is in recognition of her longstanding contribution to furthering French-German relations. It rewards the dedication, commitment and determination that have made her an example in Europe and with the world’s leading players in space, at a time marked by new challenges and growing competition. I am delighted to be celebrating with you the relationship of trust, excellence, partnership and friendship that CNES and DLR have built up over many years. I would like to thank Pascale for everything she has done and congratulate her for this distinction.”