His training will begin next April, under the coordination of another Belgian, emeritus astronaut Frank De Winne, who heads the training center for European astronauts in Cologne.
“The first mission could be 2026 at the earliest, but there are five of us (in the selection of career astronauts, editor’s note), so it could be 2030,” said the 34-year-old scientist, appointed by ESA to the alongside the French Sophie Adenot, the Spaniard Pablo Alvarez Fernandez, the Briton Rosemary Cougan and the Swiss Marco Sieber.
“I am very happy and very proud to have been asked to become an astronaut. Very lucky also to be surrounded by all these candidates. The selection was truly an exceptional adventure; to see this enthusiasm of thousands of European candidates, it was completely crazy,” he added. No less than 22,000 aspirants had applied for the position of career astronaut at ESA.
Belgium lands the 3rd astronaut in its history: Raphaël Liégeois will be the very first Walloon in space (sudinfo.be)
Receiving from the Secretary of State for Scientific Research Thomas Dermine a copy of the Tintin album “We walked on the Moon”, Raphaël Liégeois said, with a smile, ready to take over.
The doctor in neurosciences from the University of Liège underlined that he was committed to a scientific career “to shape the world of tomorrow which would be better, and that is also why I applied for the post of ‘astronaut’.
“The message I would like to bring to all generations, especially young people, is that science is really beautiful, there is a lot of room for creativity there, and science will be central to meeting the challenges that we collectively face as humanity”.