Space, a major challenge for Belgium


With its strong involvement in the European Space Agency, its wealth of successful companies in the rocket and satellite construction sector and its famous research centres, can Belgium aspire to send an astronaut into space?

Within the European Space Agency (ESA), Belgium is considered as "the smallest of the big but the biggest of the small". As the sixth largest contributor to the budget out of the 22 members (including Canada and Switzerland), its voice certainly carries weight in the decisions taken by ESA bodies.

Thanks to this significant financial contribution, a return on investment is guaranteed for many Belgian companies in the space sector. The most important Belgian flagship companies in the space industry are Newtec, Thales Alenia Space Belgium, QinetiQ Space, SABCA, Techspace Aero, Spacebel, Trasys, RHEA and Vitrociset.

In Redu (province of Luxembourg), the agency has an operations centre which will soon be responsible for the cybersecurity protection of all ESA activities and infrastructures. Elsewhere in the country, numerous scientific collaborations are being established between the ESA and Belgian researchers, including those at the University of Antwerp and the renowned Space Centre of the University of Liège.

Is it enough to support the ambition of sending a Belgian into space, after Dirk Frimout (1992) and Frank De Winne (2002 and 2009)? In any case, the call for candidates has been launched!