Gabriel Lafferranderie (born October 10, 1941) passed away 8 December 2016 at the age of 75 years. He graduated from the Toulouse Institute of Political Studies and received the title of Doctor of Law from the Faculty of Law in Toulouse in 1966 for a thesis on the legal regime of satellites. This thesis, and the numerous publications that followed, have been authoritative in space law and paved the way for several generations of researchers in various related disciplines.
He joined Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) in July 1969 as Head of Legal Affairs and then joined the European Space Research Organization (ESRO) in 1972 as Head of the Legal Affairs Division. From 1983 until November 2002, Gabriel Lafferranderie was the legal adviser of the European Space Agency (ESA). In 1989, he founded the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), of which he was the President until 2007. He was a former treasurer of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and named an honorary director in recognition of his many achievements for IISL. Gabriel Lafferranderie combined his experience as legal counsel of the mentioned space agencies with a profound interest for the scientific and academic aspects of the law of outer space activities. The close linkage between the IISL and the ECSL is based upon Dr. Lafferanderie’s work and can best be seen in the Manfred Lachs Moot Court and the IISL/ECSL Symposium at the sessions of the UNCOPUOS Legal Subcommittee.
An icon of space law, he received many awards in recognition of his contributions to the academic community of space lawyers. He was the first holder of the Hubert Curien Prize, awarded by Eurisy in 2004. He was awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the National Order of Merit, and the ECSL’s 2014 Award for Outstanding Contribution in Space Law.
Marco Ferrazzani, currently ESA Legal Counsel and Head of the Legal Services Department, has said remembering his work:
“Gabriel Lafferranderie has been my boss and predecessor as ESA Legal Counsel and mentor in space law. He played a substantial part in the drafting, implementation and interpretation of the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency, thus ensuring ESA’s institutional stability and the coherence of the legal instruments adopted and contributing to the success of the major European space programmes. Gabriel Lafferranderie played an active role in the setting up of space sector operators, such as Arianespace, Eutelsat and Eumetsat, an innovation that owes much to his capacity to adapt and give legal sense to institutional changes, required by geopolitical, economic or societal evolutions.
He was the leader in setting up of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) in 1989. We witness his personal dedication to the cause of developing and promoting the achievements of international cooperation and space law, with upcoming generations in mind”.
Gabriel Lafferranderie will be missed by many but remembered through the legacy of his work.