The second beSPACE Space Dinner on March 7, 2014 was again a big success. More than 140 people participated, approximately 25% more than last year. Six speakers gave their own view on the topic ‘Belgium and Space: Next Steps?’:
Stijn Ilsen, Spacecraft AIT and Operations System Engineer at QinetiQ Space presented the past, ongoing and future PROBA projects. Not only did he explain the history and technological marvels on board of the PROBA satellites but also shared a series of remarkable results, and some of QinetiQ Space’s plans for the future.
Senator Dominique Tilmans, president of the Space Working Group of the Belgian Senate, explained that the average age in the aerospace and space industry is about 48 years old, reminding us that many of the people active in this industry will retire in the upcoming decade. She focused on the need to promote a career in the space industry as an option to students, while also indicating the low amount of women active in this industry. After providing the audience a summary of the reasons why there seems to be low interest in a career in the space industry, she indicated that there is still a lot that needs to be done to be able to have enough capable young professionals to replace those who are going to retire.
Professor Christoffel Waelkens, programme director of the Master in Space Studies programme at KU Leuven, kicked off his presentation reasoning why space is important to humankind. He closed it by explaining why it is important to dream – more than just presenting a list of action points – of what you as a person or a state want to achieve in this field.
- The last presentation was a short one by the first three National Trainees at ESA in Noordwijk. Johan Vennekens, Romain Gérard and Robin Nelen explained to the participants what they are doing at ESTEC and which projects and teams they are involved in. Many of the people attending the event were positively surprised to see how many projects at ESTEC were carried out in cooperation with or for Belgian organizations.
Each of these presentations highlighted the many ways Belgium is active in space. Although, the remark was often made that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the cooperation between the industry, academia and politics in this area.
A two hour networking event with a bite and drink closed the evening, many of the participants were positively surprised to meet people of a broad scala of organizations and various backgrounds. Much like the space sector itself, the beSPACE Space Dinner is something for you, regardless of your background.
We look forward to next year and already invite you to participate! Keep an eye on our website. Best regards from the beSPACE team!
PS. We also want to thank the Belgian High Representation for Space Policy, the Planetarium of Brussels, Antwerp Space, Newtec and Thales Alenia Space. Without their support, this event would not have been possible.