As part of the reorganisation of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) directorates, Dr David Parker, the Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, has been recruited to head up the new Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Directorate. There is no news yet as to who will replace Parker.

Dr David Parker becomes ESA's new Head of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration. Courtesy: ESA

Dr David Parker becomes ESA’s new Head of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration. Courtesy: ESA

The news was a surprise given the UK’s past luke-warm response to human exploration. This stance has recently changed, however, as it looks forward to the first official ESA astronaut making a flight to the International Space Station later this year.

Parker leaves the UK Space Agency at a difficult time.  It is facing job cuts as part of a 17% budget reduction at its holding department, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Skills. The Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration department has been split off from the Science and Exploration Directorate, which will continue to be run by Alvaro Gimenez Canete.