M. Courtois is Civil Engineer in Aerospace and holds degrees in aerospace engineering from École Polytechnique and Graduated from the National School of Aeronautics and Space (ENSAE) in 1971.

He joined in the early 70s CNES (French Sace Agency ) and take the responsibility of the early studies related to the French Earth Observation Satellite program SPOT. He has been managing the full system development team till the successful launch in 1986 of the first flight unit. This program has been the foundation of the whole of European commercial Earth Observation effort.

From June 1986 to March 1989, he became CNES Deputy Director in charge of preliminary draft studies and development of applications including : Earth observation (Spot 2-4, Helios, Polar Platform and radar observation draft), telecommunications (Telecom Telecom 1C and 2) direct TV (TDF-1 and 2), location systems (Locstar, Argos, Cospas Sarsat, European complement to GPS) and the Liaison Silex laser intersatellite system. The joint research laboratory of CNES / CNRS, is also placed under his authority.

In 1993 he became head of CNES Toulouse Space Centre and initiate among other mini and microsatellites activities and associated platform dvt.

At that time Michel Courtois has been a member of several boards of directors, including Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS) and companies such as Intespace, Spot Image SA and its Washington subsidiary Spot Image Corporation, as well as Arianespace. He is also a founding member of the Académie des Technologies.

In the frame of a CNES/ESA common endeavour Michel Courtois becomes some year later Director of the spaceflight European Shuttle program Hermes and associated manned -spaceflight activities.

In 1999, Michel Courtois becomes Vice President and Chief Technical Officer of Alcatel-Space (more than 1500 employees) including the full responsibility on technical development, methodology and quality management

Michel Courtois has been the European Space Agency's (ESA) Director of Technical and Quality Management (D/TEC) and Head of its European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands from 2004 to 2010. M. Courtois has received numerous awards for his contributions to space activities. These include: three awards from the Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France (AAAF) in 1976, together with the AAAF Prix des Jeunes; the Grand Prix de l'Académie Nationale de l'Air et de l'Espace (ANAE) in 1987; Officer of the National Order of Merit in 1991; the Achievement Award Awarded to the team SPOT 1 in 1998; and the 1998 Award of Astronautics. In 2000, Michel Courtois was made an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.

Today Michel Courtois is Président of Van Allen foundation and international recognised expert on Space systems having been associated to many technical audits on launching and satellite operations failures.


The role of michel Courtois as Blue planet Chief technical officer for the space segment of v-GLOBE is essential. Owing to his in-depth and highly qualified technical and managerial competence, he takes care of the whole development quality and technical management. This is for the project the insurance the v-GLOBE program will go-on with the full respect of specified planning, cost and technical performances