Greek-American Space Scientist Returns Under New Democracy

Greek-American scientist Stamatios Krimigis. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Georgia Panagopoulou)

Noted Greek-American space scientist and Professor Stamatios Krimigis – who quit his post as chief of the Hellenic Space Agency in April, 2018, citing political interference from the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA – is back in Greece, as an unpaid adviser to the Digital Governance Ministry.

The head of that ministry, Kyriakos Perrakakis made the announcement but it wasn’t said what Krimigis’ duties would be. He is Head emeritus of the Space Department Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and one of the pioneers of NASA’s unmanned space exploration programs. The 80-year-old scientist is also a member of the Academy of Athens, among numerous other distinctions, mocked by SYRIZA when he quit only a few weeks after taking over the Greek space agency which has done nothing of note since.

In a lengthy letter when he left serving SYRIZA, Krimigis took a shot at Telecommunications Minister Nikos Pappas for what he said was using the new agency to bolster aims of the ruling party and not to advance the country’s burgeoning space program.

“It is my belief that there is a concerted effort to manipulate HSA toward specific goals,” wrote Krimigis.  “Conditions are being created that undermine the three ‘As’,” as he said, using the first letter of the Greek words for evaluation, meritocracy and excellence, which other SYRIZA ministers have said don’t apply.

Krimigis, who had been a NASA project manager and principal investigator, also aimed his criticism at Vassilis Manglaras, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission.

He said the HSA was rendered irrelevant by a series of recent ministerial decisions transferring all of the entity’s substantive responsibilities so that the government, which has been packing public payrolls after Tsipras vowed to stop patronage, could use it for political instead of scientific purposes.

“I detected a clear intent to and an insistent persistence to promote actions without evaluation, without meritocracy, far removed from international models, ones that serve personal agendas and the full oversight of the general secretariat,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Krimigis ripped Manglaras as a “space tzar” the scientist said tried to use the agency immediately  as a political bureau, “with the minister’s tolerance,” and even though he has “no knowledge or experience in this field.”

He added that Pappas, who had been State Minister and remains one of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ closest advisors, had “effectively annulled the HSA’s entire purpose and rendered it an unreliable bureaucratic structure that could become subservient to any political chief.”

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