The theme of Switch to Space 3 is Space Exploration.

Do you already know which of the 7 engaging topics interests you the most?

Moon & Mars

Plenary sessions
09:00 – 12:30

Panel 1 (09:20 - 10:20)

The role of Europe and Belgium in Mars Exploration?


Chair: Sabri Mekaoui


  • Didier Schmitt (ESA)

  • Stella Tkatchova (EIC programme Manager for Space)

  • Thomas Dermine (Belgian State Secretary for Recovery, Strategic Investments & Science Policy)


Panel 2 (10:25 - 11:25)

The place of Belgian industry in the Moon and Mars gateway


Chair: Prof. Dr. Ir. Vladimir Pletser


  • Belspo, OIP, Spacebel, QinetiQ, Telespazio, Lambda-X, Safran, ThalesAlenia, GomSpace, HeartKinetics


Panel 3 (11:30 - 12:30)

How can we benefit from Moon & Mars Exploration technologies?


Chairs: Natacha Callens & Prof. Walter Peters 


  • Frank De Winne (Head of the European Astronaut Centre)

  • Koen Vriesacker (Technology Transfer Broker for the Belgian Space Solutions Center)

  • Jan Van Baelen (The Lunar Grid)

  • Mieke Sterken (Education & Outreach coordinator at Polar Fondation)

Cup of Coffee

Lunch break / Speed dating / Meetings
12:40 – 14:30 

mars and moon

Topic 1
To the Moon & Mars

Chair: Veronique Dehant and Vladimir Pletser

Presentations & Speakers

Going to Mars and the Moon needs studies in micro-gravity and experiments on the Moon first 

Carlo Lorio, Senior Researcher at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Adjunct Professor at York University

Understanding Mars from Mars Sample Return

Vinciane Debaille, FNRS Senior Researcher at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Understanding Mars from interior and rotation measurement

Sébastien Le Maistre, FED'tWIN Researcher at Royal Observatory and Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain)

Understanding Mars and the Moon evolution from their crater

Philippe Claeys, Full Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Understanding the origin and early evolution of life on Earth, and Mars?

Emmanuelle Javaux, Professeure ordinaire/full professor at the Geology Department Director of Early Life Traces & Evolution-Astrobiology laboratory Director of UR ASTROBIOLOGY at Université de Liège (ULiège) ​

switch to space

Topic 2
Telescopes: Unravelling the mysteries of the Universe

Chair: Katrien Kolenberg and Carl-Henrik Dahlqvist

Presentations & Speakers

Imaging planetary systems with the Extremely Large Telescope: challenges and promises
Olivier Absil, FNRS senior research associate at STAR Institute ULiège

The James Webb Space Telescope
Bart Vandenbussche, Research manager at the Institute of Astronomy KU Leuven

The Science of the Einstein Telescope

Giacomo Bruno, Professor of physics at IRMP UCLouvain

Focus on the E-test activities at CSL: A new radiative cooling concept
Cédric Lenaerts, Project manager CSL

A new look on the UniverseGwenhaël de Wasseige, Franqui assistant Professor of physics at IRMP UCLouvain

space event in Belgium

Topic 3
Space Technologies for Moon & Mars

Chair: Koen Puimège and Patrick Hendrick

Presentations & Speakers

Nuclear propulsion for the missions on Mars

Vincent Massaut & Gert Pille (SCK.CEN / Tractebel)

Liquid rocket propulsion Switch to New Space

Vincent Ledoux (Space Program at Safran Aero Boosters)

The CNES Spaceship: preparing the future of space exploration

Romain Charles (CNES)

The future of Lunar Communications and Navigation Services: Moonlight project

Nicola Di Quatro (Telespazio Belgium)

NOMAD instrument for Mars atmospheric analysis (searching for traces of life)

Bart Desoete (OIP)

space event

Topic 4
Astronauts 2.0: 21st century Explorers to Mars

Chair: Sarah Baatout and Anna Fogtman

Presentations & Speakers

Space: the next frontier in tissue engineering

Kevin Tabury (SCK.CEN)

Astronaut cardiac function monitoring, an investigator's journey; from fundamental research to medical applications on earth, and the launch of a startup!

Pierre-François Migeotte (Heartkinetics/ ULB)

Space rewires the brains of astronauts

Prof Dr Floris L Wuyts (Head of Lab for Equilibrium Investigations and Aerospace (LEIA), Vertigo expert – European Institute for Otolaryngology HNS, St Augustinus Hospital – Wilrijk - Belgium)

Grip: dexterous manipulation in microgravity

Philippe Lefèvre (UCL)

Life Support Technology for long term human space missions

Dries Demey (QinetiQ)


Topic 5
Using local resources on Planets to live

Chair: Sabri Mekaoui and Prof. Walter Peeters

Presentations & Speakers

Space Resources Technology Needs and Systems Overview

Diego Urbina (SAS)

Using in situ resources for food, water and oxygen production in space and on other planets

Dr. Ir. Natalie Leys (SCK CEN)

Support Programme and the contribution of the Space resources activities to the Lunar Economy

Lari Cujko (ESRIC - Startup Program Lead)

Helium-3 : a strategic resource for ISRU and our planet?

Abigail Calzada Diaz (ESRIC - Startup Program Lead)

The challenges for space law in view of future missions to Mars

Kevin Madders (c/o King’s College London Dickson Poon School of Law)


Topic 6
Protect & Defend our Planets

Chair: Marta Lebron and Mohammad Iranmanesh

Presentations & Speakers

HERA mission and Juventas cubesat

Mehdi Scoubeau (GOMspace)

Aerothermodynamic simulation of atmospheric entry phenomena

Pierre Schrooyen (CENAero)

Directed-energy: a versatile technology for space applications

André Fuzfa (Unamur)

How smallsats can participate in a responsive planetary defense system

Jean-Emmanuel Roty (Aerospacelab)



Topic 7
Space humanities / Leaving the cradle of humanity

Chair: Olivier Chazot

Presentations & Speakers

René Oosterlink (UGent)

Guerric de Crombrugghe

Jean-François Mayence (Polymath Lawyer)

Stéphanie Roland (Cosmic-inspired Artist)

Marie Gueguen (Multiverse Philosopher)

Moon & Mars

Plenary session 16:00 – 18:00

Summary of the event, conclusions, presentations by students

The evolution of Space Exploration - point of view of Astronauts Frank de Winne, Dirk Frimout, Charles Bolden, Richard Chappell, Robert Thirk, Anna Fischer

Register for Switch to Space 3