Christian Feichtinger, 48, was born in Graz, Austria. He joined the European Space Agency in 1997 as its Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration (HME) Programme Representative in Moscow. He became Head of the ESA Permanent Mission in the Russian Federation in 2007 and from 2009 – 2011 was ESA's Senior Advisor on Exploration. An engineer by background, Dr Feichtinger graduated from the Graz University of Technology and earned a PhD in Space Experimentation. During the early 1990s and within the Institute of Applied Systems Technology of Joanneum Research, Graz, he became Technical Manager of the first Austro-Soviet manned space mission to MIR “AUSTROMIR” and the follow-on missions “AUSTROMIR-E” and “AUSTROMIR MED-F”. He became an integrated member of the ESA EUROMIR-94 and EUROMIR-95 Mission Management Team at ESTEC as Liaison Officer to Russian prime contractor RSC Energia, eventually becoming resident in Moscow as the EUROMIR-95 Flight Operations Manager at Russian Mission Control Centre. As incoming Executive Director, he will replace Philippe Willekens who leaves the IAF after six successful years at the end of December. Mr Willekens returns to the European Space Agency to join the Director General’s Cabinet. The President of the International Astronautical Federation, Prof. Dr Berndt Feuerbacher expressed delight at the appointment, "Dr Feichtinger has demonstrated huge capabilities as a manager and a scientist during his career. He has an excellent knowledge of the international space community and its activities. I am very happy that he is bringing his outstanding talent to the Federation at this important period of our growth. This appointment puts Dr Feichtinger in a key position to shape the future of international astronautics. I wish him all the best in his new responsibilities."