Francois Spoto

European Space Agency (ESA)Mars Programme Group Leader

After having completed engineering studies in France in 1984, I was employed as microwave engineer by a radar industry. After 3 years, I joined the technical center of the European Space Agency in The Netherlands where I was recruited as microwave and telecommunication engineer by the technical directorate. After 2 years, I joined in 1989 the newly born Earth Observation Directorate to take responsibility for the ERS-1 telecommunication subsystem. With this new employment, I joined a pioneering spacecraft development team at ESTEC that developed with European and Canadian industry the most advanced sun-synchronous orbiting platform and earth observation payloads, This ERS-1 team also defined rigorous project engineering and management processes that did not exist prior to that time to help managing the ESA Member State expectations and the activities conducted within large industrial consortia within the specified performance, schedule and cost corridors. After the successful launch of ERS-1 in 1991, my career evolved to technical system engineering management positions within the very large ENVISAT and MetOP-A projects until 2026. In that time frame, I also graduated with a master’s degree in business administration and management.

In 2017, I became project manager of Sentinel-2, the multispectral wide-swath and low-resolution component of Copernicus developed in cooperation with the European Commission, leading the project until it’s in orbit commissioning. End-2016, I moved to the ESA Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration to lead the ExoMars Rover and Surface mission initially developed in cooperation with Roscosmos. Following decision by ESA to join the Mars Sample Return programme led by NASA, I became in 2020 Mars Programme Group Leader at ESA. Currently, I take responsibility for the completion of ExoMars and for the provision of the European project contributions to the Mars Sample Return Campaign.


International Astronautical Congress 2022

18-22 September 2022

Paris, France