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In memoriam – Prof. Reimar Lüst

Posted on 07 April 2020

The Historical Archives of the European Union pays tribute to Professor Reimar Lüst, former Director General of the European Space Agency, who passed away on 31 March 2020 at the age of 97.

Prof. Lüst was a pioneer of European space policy. First as Secretary of the Scientific and Technical Working Group, then as Scientific Director, Professor Lüst was actively involved in the European Preparatory Commission for Space Research (COPERS) in the 1960s. He participated in drawing the scientific programme of the European Space Research Organization (ESRO), and was one of the first members of the Launching Programme Advisory Committee, which he chaired until 1970. Professor Lüst was elected President of the Max Planck Society in 1972 and served two terms, making him the youngest person to date holding that position.

Serving from 1984 until 1990, Prof. Dr Reimar Lüst was the third Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), and is considered one of the leaders in the development of a European space policy. He leaves an important legacy in the field of European space research and contributed significantly to our knowledge of the origins of our planetary system, solar physics, physics of cosmic rays, plasma physics, hydrodynamics and the physics of nuclear fusion.

Prof. Lüst also played a key role in the preservation of ESA’s historical archives and the establishment of a cooperation with the HAEU. As founder of the agency’s internal records management and archives unit, he promoted the conclusion of a deposit agreement between ESA and the Historical Archives of the European Union. Furthermore, he played a key role in the launch of ESA’s History Project as well as in the oral history project ‘Oral History of Europe in Space’ initiated in 1989 in collaboration with the HAEU. The latter collection of oral history interviews is available online in the HAEU database, and includes an interview with Prof. Lüst on his role and activities in European space policy. 

The HAEU staff expresses deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prof. Reimar Lüst.

Read the articles on the website of the European Space Agency and on the ESA DG blog.