Mr. Andrés Ripoll Muntaner

Medalla nº XV (01/12/1994-22/01/2017)
Académico constituyente


Andrés Ripoll Muntaner holds a Doctorate in Polytechnic Engineering, a Diploma in Operative Research and several diplomas in Space Research Techniques.


His experience in the field of Space Investigation covers 40 years, having taken part in NASA’s manned programs such as Apollo, which landed men for the first time on the moon, Skylab, the first American space laboratory and Apollo-Soyuz, the first partnership program between USA and Russia.  His experience in unmanned programs is also very vast, from Cosmos investigation programs to Earth observation programs or telecommunication.


In 1975, as a member of the newly created European Space Agency (ESA), he was entrusted with the construction of the Villafranca Satellite Tracking Station, which he directed for 13 years. From this observatory station, they controlled the first IUE space telescope (the precursor of Hubble Space Telescope), which enabled the creation of a space databank of more than 100,000 unique images and spectrums in the range of UV radiation. Astrophysicists from more than 20 countries worked in this Station and a lot of Spanish physicists were able to undertake their doctoral thesis with the data obtained from space. Other important programs were EXOSAT, with X-rays, the first communication program with maritime mobiles, MARECS, and the involvement in the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP). In 1988, the ESA entrusted him with the creation of the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, being himself its first director. In this Centre is where all the European astronauts, including the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque, are selected and trained, they prepare for their missions, have their medical examinations, etc.


His professional and research activity during these years is vast.  Together with national and international institutions, he took part in the promotion and design of scientific instruments to fly in artificial satellites, feasibility studies of communication satellites, advising to institutions and universities and, as a member of a group of Spanish scientists and engineers, he very actively contributed to the design and promotion of the first Plan Nacional del Espacio (Spanish space plan), which became an integral part of the Plan Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Spanish research and development plan). 


He is the author of more than 60 scientific and technical publications and an appreciable number of popular articles in Spanish high-circulation newspapers such as El País, La Vanguardia, ABC, El Mundo, etc. He is also the author of “Una Mirada al Espacio” (A glance towards space), the Scientific Director of the “Gran Atlas del Espacio” (Space great atlas) and the co-author of “The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Space”, among other books.  He has been a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals and has taken part in multiple international congresses presenting communications, chairing committees, giving invited lectures and even organising some of them. In addition, he has given numerous lectures in Spain, diverse European countries, USA, Russia and Latin American countries.


He has been a member of: the Comité de Grandes Instalaciones Científicas del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (committee on large scientific facilities of the Spanish Department of Education and Science); the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aerospacial board, INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology); the company TECNOLÓGICA and the review panel of the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC). He has also been a trustee of the Fundació Empresa i Ciència de Barcelona (company and science foundation); chairman of the Fundación Balear para la Prevención de Riesgos (Balearic risk prevention foundation) and a Spanish delegate in the Megascience Forum and the Global Science Forum of the world organisation OECD. Moreover, he was a space adviser of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Research and Universities Minister of the Government of Catalonia; and an adviser of the Asociación BAiE (Barcelona aeronautic and space association). He has been a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and nowadays he is a member of the Planetary Society, both from the USA.


He has been granted with a lot of awards and decorations, which include the “Certificate of Apollo XI” and the “ASTP Award” (on Apollo-Soyuz) given by the NASA; the “Global Weather Experiment 1978-1979 Award” from the NOAA and the “IUE Participation Award” given by the ESA. The Government of the Balearic Islands awarded him with the “Premi Ramon Llull de las Ciències” (Ramon Llull science award). The Government of Catalonia gave him the “Medalla Narcis Monturiol al Mèrit Científic i Tecnològic” (Narcis Monturiol scientific and technological merit medal). The Consell Insular de Mallorca (Mallorca Island Council) has awarded him with the gold medal of 2010.


He has been a member of the jury of the “Premio Príncipe de Asturias” (Príncipe de Asturias award) and the great European jury of the “IST Prize”, award given to the most outstanding European companies within the innovations on new computing technologies yearly given by the European Commission, among others.  


He is a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics and a full member of the Real Academia de Ingeniería Española (Spanish royal academy of engineering), where he has been Vice-President. He is also an associate member of the Real Academia de Medicina de las Illes Balears (Balearic Islands royal academy of medicine) and a non-resident member of the Academia de Engenharia de Portugal (Portugal academy of engineering).


The world astronomical community has baptised an asteroid from the Main Asteroid Belt with his name: 228133 Ripoll.