Belgian Raphaël Liégeois receives his ESA astronaut diploma


Raphaël Liégeois has just successfully completed his training and is now a graduate of ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne.

At the age of 36, Raphaël Liégeois has come to the end of a very intense training programme. On 22 April 2024, the Namur citizen officially became the third Belgian astronaut in history, following in the footsteps of Dirk Frimout and Frank De Winne. As a result, he is now eligible to take part in future space missions.

"It's an important step in an astronaut's career, moving from being an astronaut candidate to a fully fledged astronaut. It's a dream that's taking even greater shape today," he said after the ceremony.

This milestone marks the successful completion of the astronaut candidates' basic training, all of whom are now eligible for space missions. "I am ready to apply these lessons as I embark on the next phase of my journey. I'm looking forward to contributing to scientific discovery and progress, inspired by Belgium's unwavering commitment to exploring new frontiers," said the newly qualified astronaut.

Selected in 2022 at the ESA Ministerial Council, the astronaut candidates began their basic training in April 2023. Initially, they were based at the ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, and later trained around the world. They undertook a one-year training programme covering essential skills such as spacecraft systems, spacewalks, flight engineering, robotics, life support systems, as well as survival and medical training.

During his 12 months of training, the Belgian astronaut also had the opportunity to learn Russian, as well as to touch on his childhood dream of experiencing weightlessness during parabolic flights: "We were weightless, but on Earth. Being weightless in the ISS, that will be on a whole other level."

Raphaël Liégeois is set to fly on his first space mission by 2030!