Meet Mechtild Lauth, one of many behind the Meteosat Third Generation mission
Now that the first of the Meteosat Third Generation satellites has begun its journey through space, we’re continuing to shine a spotlight on some of the experts who are making this mission happen
15 March 2023
31 January 2023
When Mechtild Lauth moved to Sarajevo in 2001, she didn’t intend to stay for long.
But as legal counsel at the Office of the High Representative, the international organisation that implemented the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war in Bosnia, Lauth found herself fascinated by the world of international organisations and how national and international institutions intersect.
“As always with these posts, you think you go for one or two years. I ended up staying eight years, which was certainly much longer than I had planned but it was definitely very interesting!” said Lauth.
She continued working with other international organisations and the European Union before joining the EUMETSAT Legal Affairs Division in 2012.
Now, as Head of Legal Affairs, Lauth applies the knowledge she acquired through her work for other international organisations to the space sector.
“When a new programme, such as the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) programme, is first established, Legal Affairs is busy setting up the cooperation agreements with partners and the programme framework to be approved by our member states,” Lauth said.
“Once we have the programme approval from council, the decision-making body composed of the delegates from EUMETSAT’s member states, Legal Affairs focuses more on the implementation of the cooperation agreements with partners. Then, when the development phase of a mission is over, Legal Affairs handles the legal aspects related to the operation of the mission.”
Currently, the MTG programme is well underway – the first satellite of the programme, MTG-I1, was launched 13 December 2022 – so Lauth’s focus is also on the legal aspects of another cutting-edge satellite programme, the EUMETSAT Polar System – Second Generation (EPS-SG).
EPS-SG satellites will provide data about temperature, humidity, wind, and other atmospheric features that will substantially improve weather forecasting and climate monitoring worldwide.
“At the moment we are also looking into expanding EPS-SG by adding two new programmes to it. Now we need to look into how we would frame those programmes to ensure they bring the expected benefits for member states,” Lauth said.
“Council will want to see who we would be cooperating with, who is providing what aspect of the cooperation, and who is doing what at each phase. This will all need to be spelled out clearly in cooperation agreements that I or my colleagues would draft, as was done for MTG.”
A common thread running throughout the cooperation agreements that Lauth and her team draft is ensuring respect for the United Nations’ space debris mitigation guidelines in order to avoid contributing to space debris, which has become an increasing concern for space agencies in recent years.