Friday 12 April, CNES Chief Operating Officer Lionel Suchet was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour. CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall presented him with his insignia at a ceremony at the Toulouse Space Centre.
Lionel Suchet is a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school and an Ingénieur Général de l’Armement (IGA, armaments engineer). He gained his first experience of the space sector in human spaceflight, devoting the first 15 years of his career at CNES to this domain. After joining CNES in 1989, he developed a new human factors and flight safety methodology for Michel Tognini’s Antares spaceflight mission on the Mir space station in 1992.
He was subsequently appointed project leader for the next three human spaceflight missions to Mir: Altair, Cassiopée, which flew France’s first female astronaut, and Perseus, the first French long-duration spaceflight. He went on to head the agency’s International Space Station Utilization division, where he oversaw the Andromède and STS-111 missions on the ISS. At the same time, he set up the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations, which today is the centre in charge of human spaceflight physiology for all of Europe and coordinates all of CNES’s microgravity activities.
In 2004, Lionel Suchet’s career branched out into the field of Universe science, when he became head of the department tasked with developing CNES’s astronomy, planetology and life and material sciences projects. In 2008, he was appointed head of the Sub-Directorate in charge of developing orbital systems for Universe sciences, altimetry and space oceanography, telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation and defence. In total, this Sub-Directorate was responsible for 50 projects, all of them undertaken with international partners.
In 2011, he was appointed Deputy Director of the Toulouse Space Centre and subsequently in 2016 Director of Innovation, Applications and Science (DIA), the agency’s new directorate tasked with planning and proposing CNES’s future orbital systems and their applications with a view to nurturing creativity and driving innovation.
On 28 August 2017, Lionel Suchet was appointed Chief Operating Officer of CNES.
After today’s ceremony, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “This award of the Legion of Honour to Lionel Suchet crowns his career at CNES and his efforts in furthering France’s space programme. It is also a testament to his contribution to France’s excellence and international influence. His commitment and determination have been instrumental in making CNES a leading world player in the space sector, in a changing environment marked by new challenges and increased competition. For all these reasons, on behalf of everyone at CNES I thank Lionel for his sterling work and congratulate him for this richly deserved distinction.”
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