It was a touching and emotional story– one of the world’s foremost scientists who left Greece decades ago as a poor village boy from the island of Chios and became the world’s foremost space scientist was invited to return to Greece and build that country’s space agency.
Greece’s newly-established Hellenic Space Agency was supposed to bring Greece into the space age and Stamatios Krimigis– a son of Greece, was going to be the man to do it.
Krimigis emigrated to the United States from island of Chios where he used to gaze at the stars from his beachfront village. Over the years he became one of the world’s foremost scientists and is the only person in the world who has designed instruments that have gone to every planet in the solar system.
In 2016 NASA gave him its top prize for his remarkable body of work and contribution to space exploration.
And in the twilight of his career, the Greek government’s invitation to one of its most famous diaspora children to build a space agency from scratch sounded like the perfect story of something coming full circle.
Krimigis would return to the country of his birth and gaze at the very same sky that inspired him as a child, while simultaneously sharing his decades of knowledge and expertise to build a space agency from the ground up.
Or at least that was the plan.
Just weeks into his tenure as the new agency’s director, Krimigis sent a scathing letter of resignation on April 16, 2018, criticizing the very government that appointed him.
Krimigis said in his letter that ministerial decisions had “effectively annulled the HSA’s entire purpose and rendered it an unreliable bureaucratic structure that could become subservient to any political chief.”
He also criticized behavior of the general secretary for telecommunications, who he said considered himself a self-appointed “space czar” and had “no knowledge or experience in this field.”
Greece’s prominent daily newspaper Kathimerini called Krimigis’ resignation a “defeat for the country.”
Krimigis’ complete resignation letter, in Greek, is here.
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