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Switch to Space organisers - the Dream Team!

Switch to Space is organised by professionals and volunteers with various backgrounds, knowledge and experience. Together they form a dream team that brings the vision about future space career opportunities into a comprehensive and engaging event for students and young professionals.

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Dominique Tilmans

The Chair of YouSpace  

After a career of 27 years in politics marked by an active involvement in the Space sector through chairing the ‘Senate Space Group’ and leading the European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC), Dominique Tilmans launched YouSpace/  Switch to Space  in 2014 in order to link STEM Students to Belgian Space experts. She is currently the Chair of Eurisy, Board Member of Telespazio Belgium, Member of the Advisory Board of ESPI, Member of the Advisory Bord of Europlanet2021 RI  and Vice-President of IAF.

In 2017, she received the “BeSpace personality of the year” award.

Sabri Mekaoui

Sabri is a Programme officer at the European Commission. As an EU diplomat, he is supporting the European Union in the conception of international partnership strategies in the areas of climate change, digitalisation, Space and STI in West Africa. Sabri has been in charge of various space programmes including GOVSATCOMnanosatellitesspace mission conceptsroboticlunar explorationISRU and Earth Observation technologies and services.
Sabri has been working at the Royal Meteorological of Belgium in Solar physics where he was in charge of space instrumentation on the space shuttle, the ISS and SOHO. He holds a PhD of Engineering from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a master of space science and techniques from the University of Liège. Sabri is an Alumni of the International Space University (Space Study Programme of 2002).

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Prof. Dr. Sarah Baatout

Prof. Sarah Baatout is director of the radiobiology unit at SCK CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) in Mol, Belgium. She also teaches as guest professor at UGent and KULeuven. For more than 20 years, her lab has been investigating the impact of ionizing radiation on health through the development of better radiotherapy treatments for cancer patients, the discovery of innovative biomarkers for personalized medicine of astronauts and patients. Sarah Baatout is the head of the Belgian delegation at UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation), secretary treasurer of the European Radiation Research Society and chair of the Belgian Hadrontherapy Center. She is/has been the (co-)-promoters of 5 Postdocs and of 15 PhD students and is the (co-) author of some 150 international papers.

Veronique Dehant

Véronique Dehant works at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, where she is responsible for the Operational Directorate "Reference Systems and Planetology". She is also Extraordinary Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain). She is an Academician (Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, Science Class) since 2010, Foreign Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences since 2016 and has been awarded several prizes as well as two ERC Grants from the European Research Council. She is involved in processing data from instruments in several space missions, in particular in the InSight mission (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) currently on the surface of Mars.

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Patrick Hendrick


Patrick Hendrick is Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) as well as at VUB, KULeuven and Royal Military Academy of Belgium, with also strong collaboration with the VKI. He has been involved in diffferent space technology research projects funded by ESA in programmes as GSTP, FLPP or Prodex but also in European Commission space projects as LAPCAT, ASCENSION, CHAT or FAST20XX. He is specifically active in the field of reusable launchers technology studies and experiments, together with academic partners and industry as Safran, SABCA, SONACA or Aerospacelab. Dual technologies, low cost access to space and reusable systems are a common concern in his space vision. 

Prof. Walter Peeters


Prof. Walter Peeters is the President-Emeritus of the International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, France. In his career he initially covered management positions in the construction and petrochemical industries, joining in 1983 the European Space Agency (ESA) where he became a.o. Head of the Coordination Office of the European Astronaut Center in Cologne.

He joined ISU in 2000 as professor in Space Business and Management, nominated Dean in 2005 and became President in 2011, then President Emeritus since 2018.

He advises government organizations on space activities and creation of national space agencies. He is a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics and is member of the editorial board of several space journals.

He obtained degrees in engineering and applied economics (Catholic University of Louvain), an MBA (Louvain, Cornell University) and a Ph.D. in Engineering (TU Delft, Aerospace Faculty). He authored over 90 articles on space commercialization and NewSpace Economy, the book Space Marketing (Kluwer, 2000) and an IAA Report on Suborbital Spaceflight (IAA, 2014).

His present focus is on NewSpace research and entrepreneurship amongst others leading a space incubator at ISU and supporting space start-ups.

For detailed information see also

Peetres Walter
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Olivier Chazot

Olivier Chazot is professor and Head of the Aeronautic and Aerospace department at the Von Karman Institute. He carries out research in high enthalpy facilities and plasma wind tunnels to study laminar to turbulent transition and Gas-Surface interactions in re-entry flows. He participated in multiple ESA missions for the development of flight-testing experiments like the EXPERT probe, IXV program and QARMAN re-entry CubeSat.

He is also "scientist in residence" at Zurich University of Arts for transdisciplinary collaboration between art, science and philosophy in experimental research.

Natacha Callens


Natacha Callens graduated with a double PhD in Physics awarded by the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She started her career in the space sector as local research manager of the ESA/PRODEX (add link project BIOMICS (BIOMImetic and Cellular Systems) successfully launched in the MASER 11 sounding rocket ( add link She joined ESA Education Office (add link in 2009 as programme coordinator where she developed and coordinating for several years some ESA hands-on programmes, including the Fly, Drop and Spin Your Thesis! Programmes. Since 2015 she is in charge of the ESA Academy's Training and Learning Programme (add link offering short duration training sessions to university students to complement what they learn at university and better prepare for a space-related career.

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Katrien Kolenberg 

Katrien Kolenberg is Professor of Astrophysics at the University of
Antwerp and the VUB, as well as Professor of Science Communication &
Outreach and  and national manager of the Belgian ESERO (European Space
Education Resource Office) at the KU Leuven. Her research lies in the
field of stellar astrophysics, particularly variable stars and
asteroseismology.  Katrien is passionate about scientific research, art,
astronomy for development, and innovative/artistic science communication
and education worldwide. She has received international awards for both
scientific accomplishments and science communication.

Marta Lebron

Marta is the Marketing and Communications Officer at QinetiQ, in
Kruibeke. An alumni of the International Space University, she has been
involved in different space organizations such as SpaceUp, Space
Generation Advisory Council (SGAC),, and WIA-E

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Carl-Henrik Dahlqvist


Carl-Henrik Dahlqvist holds a Master's degree in Business Engineering from the Université catholique de Louvain (LSM). After having worked 2 years for SWIFT as a financial analyst, he decided to go back to university to pursue a Ph.D. in Finance in co-supervision between the Université catholique de Louvain (LSM) and the Université de Namur where he was also a teaching assistant in Finance. He decided, a few years later, to transform his passion for Astronomy and space into a possible career. In 2014, he started, on top of his Ph.D. in Econophysics, a 2 years preparatory program for the M.Sc. in Particle Physics and Cosmology. After having completed this MSc in Particle Physics and Cosmology and received his PhD in Economics from the Université de Namur  (CeReFiM) and the Université catholique de Louvain (LFIN), he started in October 2018, a second PhD fellowship in exoplanet imaging at the STAR Institute at the Department of Astrophysics and Geophysics in collaboration with the Montefiore Institute of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the Université de Liège. His current interests lie in Exoplanets Detection, High Contrast Imaging, Optics, Solar physics, Spaces and Planetary Sciences and Satellite Conception and Operational Management.

Prof. Dr. Ir. Vladimir Pletser


Vladimir Pletser is Visiting Professor at the Scientific Adviser at the Technology and Engineering Centre for Space Utilization (CSU) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China. He supports the preparation of scientific experiments in microgravity for the future Chinese Space Station and for aircraft parabolic flights. He worked previously from 1985 till early 2016 as senior Physicist-Engineer at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of ESA. He is an expert in microgravity during aircraft parabolic flights for which he holds a world record. He was also astronaut candidate for Belgium and participated in international campaigns of crewed Mars mission simulations.

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Thierry du Pré-Werson

Mr Thierry du Pré-Werson is the Managing Director of SPACEBEL, a Belgian based company involved in the development of Space infrastructure software systems and Earth monitoring applications.

He is a civil engineer in electronics (Master in Engineering Sciences) trained at the University of Liège (ULiège).

In October 1989, after a career of 9 years in software development for SAIT Electronics – a telecommunication company – he joined SPACEBEL to be in charge of the ESA Columbus related projects.

After 15 years of involvement in the development of various scientific and Earth Observation European satellites, he was appointed General Manager and later on CEO of the company.

He is also Chairman of Wallonie Espace, Vice-President of Belgospace and is member of the Board of Directors of several organisations: Skywin, Agoria, YouSpace.

Frank Preud’homme


Frank holds a Master in Engineering and has been active in the space sector for almost 30 years. He has experience in project management and has held several management positions at QinetiQ. Currently, he is the Sales and Business Development Director and a member of the board, with additional responsibilities for communications, external relations, and strategy.

He was in charge of the set-up and creation of a new space company in Belgium, in Redu, where he was temporarily Managing Director until a new management team was put in place. 

Frank is very active in space: he has been part of different advisory groups for exploration and space technical infrastructure and he has supported numerous outreach, educational, and inspirational events. He is a member of the board of the Vlaamse Ruimtevaartindustrie, Belgospace, and FLAG.

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Koen Puimège

Koen is chairman of the board of the Flemish space industry (VRI), member of the board of Belgospace and managing director of Antwerp Space NV.
He has been active in the space industry for more than 24 years in various leadership roles and has a background in electronics and business administration. In his current position, his ambition is threefold: to strengthen cooperation between space companies and universities in Belgium, to represent them to national and international governments and to make them known to the general public.

At European and international level, Koen builds bridges between the Belgian space sector and foreign agencies, companies and institutions.
He has a creative, result-oriented and entrepreneurial mentality.

Amélie Revers

A small introduction about me, I have a law degree, I started my career in 2007 at the UCM which is an officially authorized Payroll Provider's Company, first as a Payroll Officer, but very quickly as a Front Lawyer Officer specializing in Social Law.

Passionate about the space sector when I was a little girl - I remember when I was 10 years old and I met Frank de Winne , I seized the job opportunity offered by Vitrociset Belgium in 2012 where I am now HRD for the whole Belgian Group, with employees working in the Province of Luxembourg and present as well in many European countries.
I wanted, outside of this professional context, to get involved as a volunteer for the Switch to Space project because I am passionate, and I would like to extend my knowledge about Space Sector.

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Kevin Tabury


Kevin Tabury is a junior scientist at the Radiobiology Unit of SCK CEN where he is leading Hadron radiation related projects in the context of Space and Radiotherapy research. Prior his function as junior scientist, he acquired almost 10 years of technical expertise as lab technician. He is also currently combining his position as junior scientist with a PhD at the University of South Carolina, USA.

Mohammad Iranmanesh

Mohammad Iranmanesh is a Space Systems Engineer managing technical development of space hardware and software. Previously, he completed his dual degree at UCLouvain and ISAE-Supaero with a certificate in Management of Innovation from HEC Paris. Mohammad also co-founded, a Belgian startup providing a novel platform for microgravity research using glider parabolic flights. Beside this, He  is also the National Point of Contact in Belgium for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC).

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Olivier Dupont


The first part of his career, 1985-2020, was academic. During that period, he worked in the Microgravity Research Center, a laboratory of the polytechnic school of ULB where he was involved in the development of various microgravity experiments onboard sounding rockets and the Spacelab D2 Mission. In parallel with the scientific research, he develops as project manager, optical equipment for space and industrial applications. In 1996, he founded with two partners, Lambda-X who designs, develops and manufactures imaging and metrology optical systems for high technological markets like space & security, biomedical & life science as well as process control for the industry.     

Andrei Vedernikov


The first part of his career, 1985-2020, was academic. During that period, he worked in the Microgravity Research Center, a laboratory of the polytechnic school of ULB where he was involved in the development of various microgravity experiments onboard sounding rockets and the Spacelab D2 Mission. In parallel with the scientific research, he develops as project manager, optical equipment for space and industrial applications. In 1996, he founded with two partners, Lambda-X who designs, develops and manufactures imaging and metrology optical systems for high technological markets like space & security, biomedical & life science as well as process control for the industry.     

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Guerric de Crombrugghe


Guerric is general partner at NukeTech, a venture capital fund focused on early-stage startups active in nuclear energy. He holds a master in electromechanical engineering from the Louvain School of Engineering, a research master in fluid dynamics from the von Karman Institute, and a doctoral degree in plasma physics from the University of Queensland. The focal point of his professional career was on the translation of deep technological concepts into commercial products, mostly in the aerospace sector. In June 2020 he created ScanWorld, a startup dedicated to the provision of value-added services to agriculture using satellite imagery.

Julien Béclard 


Julien Béclard works for the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the European Union. He is in charge of the coordination of Belgium's positions in space matters inside the EU institutions and more particularly inside the Council of the European Union where he seats for Belgium in the Space working party. His fields of expertise cover the space programme of the European Union, the European space governance and the relations between the EU and the European space agency (ESA).

Julien holds a PhD in Political Science on the European space policy from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

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Bernard Guillaume


I was a system and AIV (assembly – Integration and Verification) engineer at ESA-ESTEC working for Science Directorate projects. Before ESA, I was a launch system and mission engineer working at CNES and ARIANESPACE in France. I retired since Oct 2021 and I have created a small company for working as consultant engineer and provide support to space projects.

Aurelie Bellemans


Aurélie received her degree in Electromechanical Engineering from the joint BRUFACE programme at the VUB and ULB in 2013. Afterwards, she joined the von Kaman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in a collaborative PhD with ULB. She worked as a BAEF postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the FLOW research group at VUB as an assistant professor in October 2020. The overarching topic of her research is to develop data-driven feature-extraction methods and build advanced surrogates using machine-learning algorithms. Her main applications of interest are the development of digital twins for reacting flows with applications to plasma-assisted combustion and atmospheric re-entry plasmas. 

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Catherine Clinquart


After a Master's degree in Germanic languages at the  UCL, Catherine taught for 35 years in upper secondary education. She has no particular experience in space but had the opportunity to meet Dirk Frimout shortly after his first space flight. She helps Switch to Space with the translations and organisation of the different Zoom meetings.

Georges Gondon 


Mathematician and computer scientist from the Free University of Brussels, Georges Gondon was for more than 20 years managing director of BIAC-LOG SA, a Luxembourg company for the creation and development of software. His role at ‘Switch to Space’ involves finance and setting up a speed dating.

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Linda Kimeisa


Linda is a digital communication manager at WIT Berry (Latvia). Linda has more than 10 years of experience in digital communication. She has been participating in Horizon 2020 projects and Horizon Europe as communication manager. She has been always interested in new ideas, solutions and innovations. Linda is the person that sees more solutions and opportunities than problems.

Guna Valtere

Guna is a communication and marketing manager with more than 5 years of experience. She cherishes personalised communication on all levels: among colleagues, with clients, and between clients and their clients. In doing her job Guna always goes the extra mile to ensure the quality of the work.

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