The first astronaut of Spain, Pedro Duque, has been named the minister of sciences by the new socialist government of the country.
The prime minister and self-styled feminist Pedro Sánchez is expected to appoint a cabinet of female majority, in contrast to the executives dominated by men of deposed Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
The women will take the position of Deputy Prime Minister and the portfolios of economy and finance.
Duque, 55, went to space for the last time in 2003 as part of a mission of the International Space Station (ISS).
Aeronautical engineer with three children is prone to mention the late British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke, report of the Spanish media.
Mr. Duque was selected by the astronaut corps of the European Space Agency in 1992 and became the first Spaniard to travel to space in 1998, hen he joined NASA’s STS-95 mission from Cape Canaveral. Mr. Duque served as mission specialist aboard space shuttle Discovery on the nine-day mission.
He and three other crew members of the STS-95 were awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for international cooperation in 1999, which he called “the architects of the peaceful exploration of the universe.”
In 2003, he participated in the 10-day Cervantes ISS mission as a flight engineer in the Russian Soyuz-TMA.
Since 2011 he has headed the Flight Operations Office of ESA in Munich, Germany, and in 2015 “returned to astronaut duties and full flight status”, according to a profile on the ESA website.
Its official title will be that of Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, reports the newspaper El País.
Sanchez has not officially announced the full cabinet, but the key names have been widely publicized by the Spanish media. They include:
- Carmen Calvo, former Minister of Culture, will act as Vice Minister and Minister of Equality
- Josep Borrell, the former president of the European Parliament, will be Minister of Foreign Affairs
- María Jesús Montero, former Councilor of Andalusia, will be Minister of Finance
- Nadia Calviño, the budget manager of the EU Commission, will be Minister of Economy
The conservative leader of the Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, who took office in 2011, was overthrown as prime minister last week after losing a motion of no confidence in parliament.
Sanchez won the support of six other parties to dismiss Rajoy for a massive corruption scandal. His party only has a quarter of the seats in parliament.
On Wednesday, Mr Rajoy, 63, said he planned to leave the political scene, saying “there are other things to do in life than dedicate oneself to politics”.
He added: “I had an enormously intense political life and I think it makes no sense to stay longer here.”