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March 7, 2014: second Space Dinner

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

    Stijn Ilsen

    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.


  • Senateur Dominique Tilmans

    Senateur Dominique Tilmans

    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

    Professor Christoffel Waelkens

    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.

    Belgian National Trainees at ESTEC

    Belgian National Trainees at ESTEC

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.


beSPACE space dinner

beSPACE space dinner

March 13, 2014: Senate conference with professor Englert

Senator Madam Tilmans would like to invite 30 members of beSPACE to a lecture of professor Englert, Nobel Prize winner for Physics, on March 13, 2014 at 10h00. You can find more details below.

If you would like to attend the lecture, please send an email to with your name, email address and current function/job title/field of study before March 11, 2014. You will then receive a personal invitation. Registration is obligatory!

Version française :
« Pleins feux sur la recherche fondamentale et ses défis»
avec la participation du Professeur François Englert, Prix Nobel de Physique 2013
Sabine de Bethune, Présidente du Sénat, et Dominique Tilmans, Présidente du groupe de travail « Espace » du Sénat
ont le plaisir de vous inviter à la conférence
« D’un boson à l’univers, des particules aux satellites »
le jeudi 13 mars 2014 à 10h00 au Sénat.
Programme :
– Mot d’accueil par Mme de Bethune et Mme Tilmans
– Exposés ciblés sur un large public par :
* J-M Frère (ULB)
* Thomas Hertog (KUL) “Images satellites du Big Bang de Lemaître”
* Catherine De Clercq (VUB) “ICEcube : des neutrinos venus de l’espace captifs des glaces”
* Considération par François ENGLERT, prix Nobel de Physique 2013 sur “la portée de la recherche fondamentale”
* Discussion + débat en panel
12.30 : Drink et sandwich de clôture
Nederlandse versie :
“Voor het voetlicht : het fundamenteel onderzoek en zijn uitdagingen”
Met deelname van Prof. François Englert, Nobelprijs Fysica 2013
Sabine de Bethune, Voorzitster van de Senaat, en Dominique Tilmans, Voorzitster van de Werkgroep “Ruimtevaart” van de Senaat
Hebben het genoegen u uit te nodigen op de conferentie
“Van een boson tot het Universum, van elementair deeltje tot satelliet”
Op donderdag 13 maart 2014 om 10.00 uur in de Senaat.
Programma :
– Welkomstwoorden door mevr. De Bethune en mevr. Tilmans
– Op een breed publiek gerichte uiteenzettingen door :
* J-M Frère (ULB)
* Thomas Hertog (KUL) “Satellietbeelden van Lemaitres Big Bang”
* Catherine De Clercq (VUB) “ICEcube : neutrino’s uit de ruimte gevangen in het ijs”
* Beschouwingen door François ENGLERT, Nobelprijswinnaar Fysica 2013 over het “belang van het fundamenteel onderzoek”
* Gedachtewisseling + debat met panel
12.30 : Drink en sandwich ter afsluiting

November 18, 2013: info session ESA YGT and national trainee

Register here!

On Monday November 18, EUROAVIA Leuven and beSPACE are organising an informal session about becoming a Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) or a Belgian National Trainee at the European Space Agency (ESA). A couple of alumni will give you an insider’s look on what a YGT is all about, and will give you advice on how to apply for a YGT position. There will be a short presentation and plenty of time for questions.

The event will start at 20h, in Bouwkunde 03.22 on Campus Arenberg near Leuven. Check the road description here: The most convenient parking spaces are at the Mechanical Engineering department (Werktuigkunde). The closest bus stop is on the ‘Kantineplein’ (take line 2 towards Heverlee campus from the Leuven train station). After the event, there will be a small free reception. If you want to come, please register here.



October 21, 2013: ESA YGT and National Trainee introduction

On Monday 21 October 2013, the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) presented, in the presence of astronaut Frank De Winne and State Secretary for Science Policy Philippe Courard, the first three laureates of the Belgian National Trainee Program. Johan Vennekens, Robin Nelen and Romain Gérard will begin their internship at ESTEC, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Research and Technology Centre, on the 1st of November. The aim of the program is to offer young engineers and researchers the opportunity to work on space projects and obtain the work experience during a 12 month internship, which could be extended to 24 months.

In this way both BELSPO and ESA want to encourage young engineers and researchers to go for a career in the space sector. While it is indisputable that there is indeed a growing demand for highly skilled professionals from the Belgian aerospace industry, it remains difficult for a young professional to find a steady job within this industry. Companies prefer people who already have work experience, for the obvious reason that the time it takes for a person to bring a return on investment (ROI) to the company is shorter. Obviously it is not an easy feat for a young professional to obtain work experience, which is why such programs as the Belgian National Trainee Program are of such importance.

ESA is by far one of the most coveted organizations to gain first work experience, which is why the competition for an internship position is fierce. For those who were not selected for the Belgian National Trainee Program, you can directly apply for an ESA internship, the so-called Young Graduate Trainee, or in short YGT opportunities.

At beSPACE we are convinced that ‘preparation is key’ when applying for a YGT opportunity. A well prepared person can drastically increase his or her chances to be shortlisted and selected for a YGT opportunity. The presentation below can help you in doing so, listing not only a couple of useful facts, but also what you need to pay attention to if you want to increase your chances. At the end of the presentation there are also a series of alternatives to the YGT program mentioned as a reminder that there is more opportunities out there that meets the eye.

If you have questions, you can contact us at

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May 24, 2013 – afternoon: visit to Thales Alenia Space Belgium

Many thanks to Thales Alenia Space ETCA for this great visit! All participants agreed: we had a very nice and in-depth guided tour of the production and testing facilities of electronics for launchers and satellites. Stay tuned for beSPACE’s next activities!

Group picture at Thales Alenia Space Belgium

Group picture at Thales Alenia Space Belgium

beSPACE’s next activity is a visit of Thales Alenia Space ETCA, near Charleroi. It will take place on Friday 24 May from 13h45 – 17h30 at Thales Alenia ETCA’s Mont-sur-Marchienne site, near Charleroi. The first 40 members to register will be able to visit the the factory of Thales Alenia Space ETCA. The visit will be followed by a drink, courtesy of Thales Alenia Space ETCA.

Thales Alenia Space ETCA is the largest Belgian manufacturer of space electronics and a world leader in satellite power supplies. The company is also the foremost supplier of electronics for the Ariane 5 satellite launcher. Almost 600 people work at its Mont-sur-Marchienne site, near Charleroi. Thales Alenia Space ETCA is a part of Thales Alenia Space, one of the prime European companies in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures. Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 10 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium.

Practical information

When? Friday 24 May, 13h45 – 17h30

Where? Thales Alenia Space ETCA, Mont-sur-Marchienne, Belgium

How to get there? By car or by train (the site is within walking distance of the Charleroi-Sub railway station)

Thales Alenia Space Belgium

March 8, 2013: first Space Dinner in Brussels

Thank you!

Sometimes, the numbers speak for themselves. Our website was visited by 541 people in the weeks leading up to the space dinner, with a peak of 86 visitors on Monday, March 4. Most visits came, not surprisingly, from Brussels. And apparently, beSPACE is a topic for Mondays and Fridays.

beSPACE website visits before the space dinner

beSPACE website visits before the space dinner

Map of visitors to beSPACE website before the space dinner

Map of visitors to beSPACE website before the space dinner

Not surprising then, that our first ‘space dinner’ was a great success by any measure. 105 people were present, representing virtually the whole of the Belgian space community at industry, universities and institutions all over the country. This would not have been possible without our sponsors BHRS, Antwerp Space, Newtec and Thales Alenia Space, nor without all of you spreading the word. Thank you!

Breakdown of the space dinner participants

Breakdown of the space dinner participants

Also a big thank you to our speakers for their support, and for sharing with the everyone the achievements they are most proud of:

  • Eric Beka, High Representative of Belgium for Space Policy
  • Serge Van Herck, CEO, Newtec
  • Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, UCL, Vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

We received a lot of very useful feedback on Friday, and our brains are buzzing with new ideas for beSPACE. Stay tuned for our next events, and if you have any ideas or proposals, they are still welcome at


The kickoff event for beSPACE, the new network for young professionals, young graduates and students with a passion for space, who live, work or study in Belgium. The Space Dinner is first and foremost an opportunity to meet like-minded people in a relaxed atmosphere over a bite and a drink. You will also be able to watch a show in the Planetarium’s fulldome.


  • 19:15-20:15: introduction and presentations by
    • Eric Beka, High Representative of Belgium for Space Policy
    • Serge Van Herck, CEO, Newtec
    • Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, UCL, Vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • 20:15-22:00: networking event and walking dinner
  • 21:00-21:40: full-dome show ‘Touching the Edge of the Universe’ in the planetarium – optional


All young space professionals and students in and from Belgium are invited. Come over & join beSPACE, meet like-minded people as well as people from industry, academia and public institutions. beSPACE is a community of young space enthusiasts, either from Belgium or living there. We meet up regularly to share experiences and help each other. Registrations are closed.

Practical information

March 8, 2013. 19h – 22h30. Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels.
Boechoutlaan 10 avenue de Bouchout, 1020 Brussels

Access by public transport:

  • Metro stop Houba-Brugmann on line 6
  • By train: Brussel-Centraal/Bruxelles-Centrale or Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid, then change to metro
  • By car: some free parking is available. See map below.

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