Space research

Belgium has always been committed to space research as an active member of the European Space Agency (ESA). Scientific research and accomplishments by Belgian companies have resulted in valuable contributions to space travel. To top it off, Belgium has two astronauts.

In space research Belgium has signed bilateral agreements with Argentina, France and Russia, and is involved in the activities of the ESA and other international research activities

Some 40 Belgian companies are regularly active in the space travel industry. In fact, the ESA's first small PROBA-1 satellite was developed in Belgium. The satellite was launched in 2001 and is still operational. The website of the ESA contains information about all PROBA Missions.

In March 1992 the first Belgian astronaut, Dirk Frimout, was a crew member aboard the American space shuttle for a NASA ATLAS 1 scientific mission. A short time later, he became the poster boy for the space centre. In 1993 he published a collection of his experiences and in March 1994 he led the founding of the Euro Space Foundation.

In November 2002 the second Belgian ESA astronaut, Frank De Winne, spent 11 days in space as part of the Odissea mission. While aboard the International Space Station (ISS) he carried out a series of scientific experiments and helped deliver the new Soyuz TMA-1 capsule that now serves as a 'lifeboat' for the crew.

Frank De Winne's new OasISS mission will have him spending six months in space in 2009. For the last two months of his mission, he will be the first European astronaut to be in charge of the ISS.

You can find more information on space research on the Belgian Science Policy website.