National Points of Contact
Belgium is a lucky country in terms of space involvement. For starters, the country already has two astronauts. Dirk Frimout embarked on a 10-day mission with the Space Shuttle in 1992. 10 years later in 2002, Frank De Winne became the second Belgian in space with a 10-day mission to the ISS followed by a 6-month stay on the board the ISS in 2009. He became the very first European commander of the station. The government has an active space education policy, and Belgium has many space enthusiast organisations along with SGAC Belgium. Both public and private initiative events of all kinds are held each year. SGAC Belgium understands its main task here to aid existing organisations, to reach more people and to provide them with help in promoting events.
Belgium is relative to its GDP, a big spender in space, with an estimated annual space budget of more than EUR 200 million. Most funding for space is allocated via the European Space Agency (ESA), although there are additional national space research activities and defence related space expenditure. Belgium also contributes to other international organisations including e.g. EUMETSAT, ESO and ECMWF. Finally, Belgium’s industry and academia are involved in European Union funded space programmes and activities, including FP-7 and Horizon 2020.
Belgium’s space competence primarily resides with the Belgium Federal government, although also the regional entities of Belgium have increasing stakes in space. The Secretary of State in charge of space policy is Mw. Elke Sleurs, Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction, Equal Opportunities, the Handicapped and Science Policy.
The Belgian High Representation for Space Policy (BHRS) defends the interests of Belgium within the international institutions which address space policy. The scientific aspects of the space policy are managed by the space division of Belspo, the Belgian Science Policy. The Belgian government announced its intention in October 2014 to create a Belgium Space Office.
Young Space Activities Overview in Belgium
Belgium’s NPOCs are active in the field contributing to various activities linked to space. These endeavours have led to the creation of beSPACE (http://www.be-space.eu), an organisation from and for young space enthusiasts in Belgium. NPoC Simon Vanden Bussche is a co-founder and the current secretary of this non-profit organisation.
Through this organisation, they attempt not only to create awareness and passion for space activities within the Belgian borders; they also carry out the SGAC message by providing for Belgian students and young professionals the opportunity to inject their thoughts, views and opinions on the direction of international space policy. The biggest event of beSPACE is the yearly Space Dinner, which typically reaches a crowd of more than 100 space professionals and students. You will find pictures of the latest space dinner on the right side of this page. Next to the Space Dinner, beSPACE also organizes visits to space companies and info sessions about careers in space.
Country-Specific Events in 2018
- beSPACE 4th Space Dinner (11 March 2016)
- Flemish Stargazing days (25-26 March 2016): Organised all over the country, for more information check the Stargazing Days homepage.
- The ODISSEA-Competition: Each year a prize is awarded to one or more students in their final year of a University or College in Europe for his/her thesis.
- Space Camps and Internships: All year long the Euro Space Centre in Transinne organises Space camps and Space internships.
- The Brussels chapter of Women in Aerospace (WIA) is organizing two-monthly a ‘get together’.
- See here for many more activities.
Interesting Web Links
Euro Space Centre
Royal Observatory of Belgium
Public Observatory Urania
Public Observatory Armand Pien
Public Observatory Mira
Public Observatory Beisbroeck
An overview of all astronomical societies
Belgian Earth Observation Platform (BEOP)
Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
Belgian Science Policy Office
Mars Society Belgium
Flemish Space Industries