Why Dirk and Frank need a successor

For Belgium, we understand, the stakes are high. It is not for nothing if our country, despite the current situation, puts the same amount in the ESA for the next three years. “Space is essential for several reasons”, comments Thomas Dermine. “The scientific feedback is very important at the level of the research teams of almost all the universities as well as the research centers of the country. I’m thinking of Earth observation, global warming. For example, applications have emerged to better manage emergencies in order to help the population, especially during floods. There is also a famous economic return ”. Each time we invest €1 from the public in space, this represents €2 in “co-invested” private contracts, postulates the management engineer. ” That’s not all. One euro invested represents 2.1 jobs created. Thanks to ESA contracts, 3,600 people work in Belgium. This is a 30% increase since 2010. This represents a third of full-time equivalents active in space services, which we estimate at between 10 and 12 thousand. We have a tradition in space in Belgium. Belgium is also one of the eleven founding countries of ESA”.

Then, continues the Secretary of State, there is what he calls “societal returns”.

“When you ask Frank De Winne or Dirk Frimout what they remember most of all from their experience in space, the same answer comes up, without their consulting each other: the fact that they understood that our Earth was fragile. When you look at the photos sent daily by Thomas Pesquet, when you see that the atmospheric layer is so thin and that it is important to preserve it, you understand the challenges of keeping the Earth in good condition”.

A packet of fries for the Bicentenary

A Belgian in space or even on the Moon from 2030? ” You imagine ? A Belgian astronaut who would eat a packet of fries in space to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our country? Above all, it will be a huge promotion for science in our country. I was able to see it recently with primary school children in Lodelinsart and Molenbeek, space makes you dream. When they have the opportunity to attend conferences and they are asked at the end who wants to study science, they all get up from their chairs to answer: ‘Me’. Space has this power. The astronaut is not a gadget, he has a great role in raising awareness of climate issues, in showing that scientific studies can lead to such interesting careers”.

And encourage young girls to undertake them. “At European level, the percentage of Belgian female students in these subjects is catastrophic. What is paradoxical is that those who commit to it obtain extremely excellent results. I met one, incredible. Her name is Elisa Tasev, she is 26 years old and works at the Royal Belgian Observatory for NASA’s DART mission”.

This mission that works to deflect the trajectory of threatening asteroids…

Pierre Nizet

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