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SABCA’s Moon-shot Award

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Come up and describe an innovative concept for a lunar landing and ascent vehicle. The class of vehicle considered should be able to carry at minimum two people.

1. Context

“Switch to Space” is the first event ever about career opportunities in the Space sector in Belgium. It will take place on October 8, 2018 in the Palais d'Egmont in Brussels (

SABCA is proud to support this event as “Golden Sponsor”. We strongly believe in the need to be part of the next generation to revitalize the space industry. The youth’s creativity and energy are crucial to ensure a sustainable and meaningful presence of Belgium, and Europe at large, in the global adventure of cosmos exploration. As such, “Switch to Space” is an essential initiative to share and inspire. Let’s shape the future, together!

SABCA designs and manufactures actuation systems and integrated structures for the aerospace industry, and provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services for the defence sector. For the space industry, SABCA delivers key aero-structures as well as the thrust vector control systems for all the engines of all the rockets of both the Ariane and the Vega launchers families. These systems are essential to guide the rocket on its right path. This unique capability was used to perform the flap control of ESA’s Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, and was chosen as preferred solution for its successor, the Space Rider.

2. Introduction

The Moon has never been closer.

In Europe, ESA advocates for the creation of an international Moon Village, where robots and humans would work together. On the other side of the Atlantic, NASA is multiplying initiatives to support the commercial exploitation of lunar resources. In the meanwhile, China has launched last May three satellites aimed at preparing the exploration of the far side of the Moon, and India will launch in October a lunar rover designed to look for signs of water and helium-3, a futuristic nuclear fuel. Not to mention the many private initiatives to launch mission to the Moon, in the wake of the Google Lunar X Prize.

No doubt: we’re going back to the Moon.

However, a major hurdles remains : landing and ascending from the lunar surface. There has been only one operational human-rated landing and ascent vehicle, the Apollo Lunar Module, which performed its last flight in December 1972. Even then, it was designed to remain on the surface for a few days only – not enough for a sustainable exploration.

Technology has substantially evolved since the seventies. As an illustration, let’s consider the tremendous progresses made by the video game industry since Atari released the production version of Pong… in November 1972. What should the new generation of lunar landing and ascent vehicle look like? What innovative architecture can we propose to reduce cost and increase reliability? In which ways would new technologies support this ambition?

3. Objective

Come up and describe an innovative concept for a lunar landing and ascent vehicle. The class of vehicle considered should be able to carry at minimum two people.

4. Selection Criteria

The best submissions will be selected based on their innovative aspect (4 points), the quality and clarity of the submission material (3 points), and the concept’s scientific and technical relevance (3 points). In other words: be creative, but clear in your explanations, and respect the laws of physics.

Copyright: NASA – Apollo 16 astronauts

5. Award

The winner will:

  • Receive his or her award during an official ceremony at the “Switch to Space” event. (Transport and catering costs are not covered by the award);

  • Be invited at SABCA for a visit of our facilities and to present his or her concept in front of a panel of experts;

  • Have the opportunity to conduct an unpaid internship of up to 6 months at SABCA in 2019 to refine his or her concept through a more in-depth feasibility study.

6. How To Apply

Submission should include:

  • A 2-pages description of the concept. The document shall be written in font size 12. All graphic material (e.g. schematics, figures, artistic rendering, etc.) shall be submitted as a separate appendix with no limitation on the length.

  • A short resume of the candidate(s), maximum 2 pages in length.

The language of all submissions must be English. Please ensure that all files are unlocked PDF documents under 10 MB. The names and e-mail address of the candidates should be included at the top of all pages.

All documents shall be sent in electronic version to

All submissions must be made by the 14th of September 2018, 23:59 CEST. Any submission after the deadline will not be considered.

7. Eligibility

  • Submissions are individual.

  • Competition organisers and members of the jury are not eligible for this award.

8. Members of the Jury

The prestigious jury members consist of:

Dr. Bernard FOING

Bernard is the Executive Director of International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG/COSPAR) and supports Moon Village studies and activities. After his PhD in Astrophysics and Space Techniques using a sounding rocket experiment, he held various positions at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the French embassy in Chile and the French National Centre for Research (CNRS). He then worked at ESA as visiting scientist, staff scientist, Research Unit Leader, Head of Research Division, Chief scientist and Senior Exploration Officer. As lead project scientist of SMART-1, he is considered as the father of the first European mission to the Moon. His work has been cited over 7,500 times in the scientific literature.


Norbert is a senior technologist with strong expertise in space. He started his consulting career at Booz Allen Hamilton’s space practice advising satellite operators and European institutions. His technical expertise was built during his years at CERN, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the European Space Agency. His currently serves as partner for SpaceTec Partners, chief scientific officer for OffWorld, director of European operations for the Shackleton Energy Company, and hosts a scientific talk show. He is also a leading member in various associations, such as the Austrian Space Forum (OEWF) and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).


Markus is a mission and architecture analyst for the European Space Agency in Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Programs department. He has been involved in numerous space missions and is currently working at European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk. He is also actively blogging about space technology and is following the proceedings of space elevator technology.


Tillo is program manager for all elements of the VEGA and VEGA-C launcher at SABCA with a demonstrated history of working in the aerospace industry. He received a degree in civil engineering mechatronics at the KULeuven university in Leuven (Belgium) in 2001 and a master degree (Master spécialisé en Techniques Aéronautiques et Spatiales) at ISAE-SUPAERO in Toulouse (France) in 2002.

Tillo is referred as the experts of the TVCs (P80, Z23, Z9, AVUM) for all VEGA stages as well as the interstage 01 and for the VEGA-C with the developments of the Z40 TVC and IS01 structure and the common P120C TVC for VEGA-C and Ariane 6 launcher.


Angelo is a space systems researcher, biologist, artist, and keynote speaker. In 2009 he initiated SEAD (Space Ecologies Art and Design), an international transdisciplinary network of artists, scientists, engineers, and activists. Its goal is to reshape the future through critical inquiry and hands-on experimentation. For the last ten years, he has been collaborating with the European Space Agency’s MELiSSA program on biological life support. In 2013 he became Crew Commander of the first NASA-funded HI-SEAS Mars simulation in Hawaii. His space-related work led him to start research at Delft University of Technology, working on bio-inspired concepts for interstellar exploration. He has been (guest) faculty at several universities in Europe, the US, and Southeast Asia.

9. Data Protection

In respect with the Data Protection Regulations, SABCA will process the provided identification information (name, surname, …) and contact details (e-mail address, phone number,…) by the candidates as well as the actual place of work or studies and headshot picture in connection with the award. This information will only be processed by SABCA for the purpose of the event and the execution of the award. By submitting an entry, applicants give their consent to SABCA for the processing of their personal data.

Due to the cooperation with the event “Switch to Space”, SABCA may need to share with participating organisations and sponsors personal data of the participants, especially their names, affiliation and headshot picture in connection with the award. SABCA is not responsible for the processing of the personal data by the participating organisations and refers to their own Data Protection Policies.

The provided personal data will be kept by SABCA, unless the participants explicitly invoke their right of erasure as provided by the Data Protection Regulation. Participants have also a right of access, right of correction or completion, right to object or of restriction and a right of Data portability.

For more information regarding the processing of personal data or to exercise the data protection rights, please contact us at

Good luck!


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