Agreement between ESA and VKI for cooperation in the field of space technology and engineering

On Thursday 25 August, at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI), a cooperation agreement was signed between ESA and VKI for cooperation in the field of space technology and engineering. This agreement has been signed by Mr. Peter Grognard, Managing Director of VKI and Mr. Torben Henriksen, director of technology, engineering, and quality of ESA in the presence of Mr. Frank Monteny, Director of the General Research and Space at Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO).

Following some long-standing and successful cooperation and mutually beneficial relationship, this agreement establishes the arrangement for cooperation between ESA and VKI to strengthen their reciprocal experience and knowledge in the field of space research. VKI, with the support of ESA, is interested in expanding the scientific research activities in Belgian companies and universities, in particular those related to space.

ESA and VKI will continue to operate through the following mechanisms:

  • exchange of technological research information of mutual interest;
  • cross support and exchange of expertise on focused research area activities
  • use of ground testing facilities;
  • organization of courses, conferences, workshops, seminars, and round tables in order to develop themes of common interest in the field of space technology and engineering.

Thanks to the efforts of the federal state through BELSPO, and largely via the research and development activities of the ESA, the Belgian industry plays a significant role within the European space sector. Between 2015 and 2021, about 400 Belgian actors (industry, universities, and research organisations) concluded a contract with ESA contributing in  to European space programmes for about 1 billion Euros.

The main topics for the Belgian space stakeholders are:

  • Earth Observation, with particular emphasis on observations and services linked to the global vegetation.,
  • Construction of satellites, especially the smaller ones, like the PROBA satellites,
  • Construction of parts of the rockets (launchers),
  • Telecommunication,
  • Electronics for the power supply of satellites.

The agreement between VKI and ESA is a perfect example of the role played by Belgium in the space sector.