Team

Ass.-Prof. Dr. Nina Klimburg-Witjes

Ass.-Prof. Dr. Nina Klimburg-Witjes

Principal Investigator FutureSpace, TT-Professorship of “Infrastructures, Innovation and Global Politics”

Nina’s work centres on the dynamic relationships between infrastructures, innovation, and shifting geopolitical landscapes. Her research employs qualitative, empirical methods to develop a grounded understanding of the interplay between global politics and technological transformations. Particularly, her work focuses on outer space governance, exploring topics such as cooperation, militarization, and environmental justice, as well as the nexus between security infrastructures, (digital) technologies and innovation discourses.

Nina Klimburg-Witjes received her PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from the Technical University of Munich in 2017 (MCTS) and was co-leader of the research group “Science, Technology and Security” of the Engineering Responsibility Lab. She was a visiting researcher at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna, a research fellow at the Austrian Research Foundation for International Development (OEFSE) as well as the Austrian Institute for International Policy (OIIP), and a research fellow at the Institute of Sociology at the Albert Ludwig University Freiburg.

She holds elected positions on the Council of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and the Austrian Academy of Science (ÖAW) Young Academy, co-founded the international network for the Social Studies of Outer Space (SSOS) and is a member of the International Network on Security and Technology in Outer Space.

Joseph Popper, PhD

Joseph Popper, PhD

Post-doctoral researcher

Joseph Popper is a post-doctoral researcher for the ERC Starting Grant project FutureSpace at the University of Vienna. He holds a PhD from the Basel Academy of Art and Design FHNW and the University of Art and Design in Linz. His research primarily focuses on the production and narration of outer space, visions of outer space futures, and the relations of outer space practices with Earthbound conditions. His writing has featured in academic journals and design publications, and he has presented his research at space industry and science technology studies conferences. Joseph is also an artist and designer and holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art. His works are exhibited internationally, including at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, La Panacée Centre in Montpellier, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.

Philipp Kürten, MA

Philipp Kürten, MA

PhD student

Philipp Kürten is a PhD student in the FutureSpace project. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies and Science & Technology Studies from Maastricht University, along with a Master’s degree in Futures Studies from Freie Universität Berlin. Philipp’s research endeavours to uncover the societal, cultural, political and economic dimensions of science and technology (and vice versa), by particularly studying their potential futures as well as the future narratives and imaginaries that surround them. His research perpetually revolves around space, with a particular focus on the ongoing developments in NewSpace. In his exploration of space, he consistently integrates perspectives, insights and methodological approaches from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Futures Studies. Philipp has employed this distinctive perspective in numerous professional and academic foresight projects, including as a visiting researcher at the European Space Agency (ESA).

Kai Strycker, Bsc BA

Kai Strycker, Bsc BA

Research Assistant

Kai is a research assistant with the ERC Starting Grant Project FutureSpace and a master student at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. He is currently engaged in research for his FutureSpace master thesis and is particularly interested in the elaborate entanglement of civil and military concerns in the European space industry. His research investigates the impact that this assemblage of interests has on the development and manufacturing of the Ariane 6.

His academic journey began at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology where he completed his bachelor in Mechanical Engineering in 2017 after conducting research at the University of Kentucky. Desiring a change in focus, he pursued a bachelor of Philosophy at the Université de Strasbourg, spending a semester at the Université de Montréal as recipient of the “Initiative d’Excellence” scholarship.

Visiting Scholars

Matúš Babják, Mgr.

Matúš Babják, Mgr.

Visiting Scholar, Matej Bel University

Matúš Babják is a PhD candidate studying International Relations at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. His research primarily centers on the evolution of international space law, the sustainability of human activity in space, the issue of anthropogenic space debris, and the commercialization of the space race. Complementing his academic endeavors, Matúš Babják serves as the National Point of Contact for Slovakia within the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and has gained professional experience through an internship at The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA).

Paloma Puente Lozano, PhD

Paloma Puente Lozano, PhD

Visiting Scholar, University Carlos III of Madrid

Paloma Puente’s research interests lie at the intersection of historical geography, political philosophy, and geopolitics, with special focus on the historical transformations of geographical and political concepts (such as territory, border, sovereignty and place/space). She is currently the principal investigator of the project ‘GEOGLOBCOM: The geopolitics of global commons. The territorialisation of international areas and the challenges to their governance (the case of Outer Space)’. The project analyses how discursive and material practices that are being currently carried out in areas that are considered ‘common heritage of humankind (global commons) imply an ongoing process of ‘fuctional territorialisation’ of said areas. As part of the collaboration with the FutureSpace project she will investigate whether the increasing securitization of EU’s outer space policies might entail a territorializing logic and which consequences this may have (both for the understanding of outer space and EU identity). Further, she will explore EU space policies’ spatial and scalar dimensions regarding scientific and material practices and infrastructures that bind EU members and the tensions between a networked and collaborative spatiality and an increasingly territorialized one in which security concerns and geopolitical interests become prominent.

International Advisory Board

Asst.-Prof. Dr. Danielle Wood

Asst.-Prof. Dr. Danielle Wood

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Danielle Wood serves as an Assistant Professor in Media Arts & Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within the MIT Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. Prof. Wood is a scholar of societal development with a background that includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Felt

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Felt

University of Vienna

Ulrike Felt is Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Vienna, Austria. Holding a PhD in physics and a second degree (habilitation) in the social sciences, Felt is addressing pressing issues at the intersections of science, innovation and society. Her research critically examines contemporary lives in knowledge/innovation societies, changing research cultures as well as the multiple engagements of societal actors with developments in science and technology. As STS scholar, she is author/co-author of numerous books and edited volumes and has published more than 120 articles and chapters. She is currently finishing a book on the politics of time in academic research. Felt has also recently been awarded an ERC grant to investigate how contemporary societies address and care for the left-behinds created by innovations, pointing to the urgency of rethinking our relation to innovation in the name of protecting our environmental futures.

Prof. Dr. Geoffrey C. Bowker

Prof. Dr. Geoffrey C. Bowker

University of Califonia at Irvine

Geoffrey C. Bowker is Emeritus Donald Bren Chair at the School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California at Irvine. He received his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Melbourne in 1984. He then studied for several years in Paris with Bruno Latour at the Ecole des Mines. At this time he developed an interest in social studies of technology and information – his first book Science on the Run: Industrial Geophysics and Information Management at Schlumberger explores these themes. He then worked in Keele (Department of Sociology) and Manchester (Center for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine) where he studied the history of cybernetics. Here again, the relationship beteween technology (the emerging computer) and information was central to his analysis.

Together with Leigh Star he wrote Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences; his most recent books are Memory Practices in the Sciences and (with Stefan Timmermans, Adele Clarke and Ellen Balka) the edited collection: Boundary Objects and Beyond: Working with Leigh Star. He is currently working on time and computing under the rubric ‘life at the femtosecond’.

Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Clormann

Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Clormann

Senior Technical Advisor

Dr.-Ing Ulrich Clormann is a seasoned engineering professional, now retired, with a distinguished career spanning academic achievements and leadership roles, accruing thirty years of experience in the aerospace industry. He graduated from the Technical University of Darmstadt with a Dipl.-Ing. in Civil Engineering (1980) and later earned a Dr.-Ing. in Materials Engineering (1985) with his PhD thesis titled „Local Stresses and Strains in Weldments as a Basis of the Proof of Fatigue Strength“.

His professional journey unfolded at MT Aerospace AG, formerly MAN Technologie AG, where he began as a Strength Engineer, conducting in-depth studies of booster case intersegment connections, contributing to the development and qualification of boosters. In a subsequent capacity he orchestrated serial production efforts and implemented a design-to-cost program. Transitioning to the position of Co-Head of Space Projects, he shouldered the responsibility for all space projects, overseeing design-to-cost programs and ensuring the seamless integration of various space-related endeavors. The subsequent five years were dedicated to the role of Head of Engineering, where he led teams in development projects, analyses, design, and process engineering. Following this, he assumed the role of Head of Technology & Innovation for three years, delving into Research & Development programs and business development, harnessing innovation to drive technological advancements. His last position in the company was as Head of the Ariane 6 Program, managing MT Aerospace’s contribution to the European launcher.

He is consutling the project team in technological matters.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoerber

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoerber

ESSCA School of Managment

Thomas Hoerber is Professor for European Studies, Director of the EU-Asia Institute and Head of the Department of International Affairs at ESSCA School of Management, France. He holds the Jean Monnet Chair – Teaching and Research in European Studies (TRES). He holds a PhD in European Studies on European integration in France, Germany and Britain in the 1950s concluded at the University of Cambridge in 2006 where he had studied at Trinity Hall since 2000, including a MPhil in European Studies on Anglo-German naval politics in the wake of the Second World War. Finally, he has concluded his Higher Doctorate (HDR) at the University of Passau (Germany) in 2018. During his PhD, he also worked as parliamentary assistant in the German Bundestag and in the French Assemblée Nationale while attending Sciences Po (Paris). These postgraduate studies were preceded by undergraduate studies at the Universities of Heidelberg and Edinburgh.

His research focuses on European integration theory, with a particular interest in the connection between History and Politics. In addition, he works on European sustainability policies, a research interest which has led him to co-leading a UACES Collaborative Research Network on ‘The Governance of Sustainability’ and since July 2018 an international research network of the Alliance Europa on the same topic. He is also working on European Space Policy within the European integration process.

Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Passoth

Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Passoth

European University Viadrina

Jan-Hendrik Passoth is Professor of Sociology of Technology, Director of the European New School of Digital Studies and Vice-President of Research and Career Development at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. After studying Sociology, Political Science, and Computer Science (1998-2003) and earning a doctorate in Hamburg (2007), he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Bielefeld (2007-2012) and Berlin (2012-14) and Head of the Digital/Media/Lab at the Munich Center for Technology in Society (2015-2020) as well as aVisiting Scholar at Indiana University (2005), Pennsylvania State University (2014), and Stellenbosch University (2020).

Jan’s research focuses on the role of digital infrastructures for democracy and politics, on software development as responsible social practice and on the possibilities of intervention in and critique of digitization projects through critical design. His projects with scholars in Computer Science, Mathematics and Software Engineering as well as with actors from politics, civil society and the arts have been funded amongst others by the DFG, the BMBF, Erasmus and the EU. His work has been published in journals such as International Sociology, Qualitative Sociology or the Journal of Systems and Software.

Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl

Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl

European Space Agency

Professor Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl is the Special Adviser for Political Affairs of the European Space Agency ESA. Before, he was seconded from ESA to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Berlin to support the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Until 2019, he was the Chief Strategy Officer of ESA in Paris. From 2007 to 2011 he was the Director of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna. Prior to this, he was the Head of the Corporate Development and External Relations Department in the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne. Kai-Uwe Schrogl is the President of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), the global association of space lawyers from more than 50 countries. He served from 2014 to 2016 as chairman of the Legal Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and was from 2020 to 2022 Co-Chair of the Global Future Council on Space of the World Economic Forum (WEF). His most recent publication is “A Research Agenda for Space Policy” at Edward Elgar Publishing.

Affiliated Master Thesis Research

Illia Litvin

Department of Science and Technology Studies

Illia is a master student at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. His research is focused on the sustainable development of outer space futures and implementations of sustainability concerns within the newly emerging space debris removal sector. His focus is particularly on the joint ESA and Clearspace first active space debris removal mission scheduled for 2026. The thesis project has the working title: “Space Debris and the Making of Outer Space Futures: Assetisation and Valuation Constellations in the First Active Space Debris Removal Mission”. His research is aimed to analyse how existing planetary concerns are enacted through complex valuation processes and relations within the European space sector.