A Belgian will go to space


Raphaël Liégeois from Namur has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA). Following in the footsteps of Dirk Frimout and Frank De Winne, he will be the third Belgian astronaut in space history.

Nearly 23,000 applicants applied for the position of professional astronaut with ESA. After a lengthy selection process, only five candidates ended up signing a contract for such a coveted job. Such an opportunity doesn’t come along every year either, as the previous selection was made in 2009. This says a lot about the exceptional nature of Belgium’s Raphaël Liégeois’s nomination of career astronaut.

An engineer and neuroscience researcher trained at the University of Liège, the 34-year-old from Namur taught at the universities of Lausanne and Geneva until now, after having worked in Singapore and the United States.

Raphaël Liégeois will follow astronauts Dirk Frimout, the first Belgian to go into space in 1992, and Frank De Winne, who participated in two missions to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2002 and 2009. As director of the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, he will be responsible for training the new recruits from next spring.

In addition to his extraordinary abilities, the Belgian winner also boasts a sympathetic, empathetic and charismatic personality, which could enable him to become a major media figure like the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet.

Knowing that space is a major challenge for Belgium, Raphaël Liégeois is bound to be a source of pride for the whole country.