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Grand Duke Henri shows interest in space programme

Grand Duke Henri met a Belgian astronaut on Wednesday and expressed his interest in space exploration, the Grand Ducal Court revealed.

The Grand Duke, who frequently hosts audiences at the Grand Ducal Palace, met with Belgian astronaut Raphaël Liégeois ahead of the launch of the ‘Astronaut for a Day’ competition in place to encourage young people to consider careers in space exploration.

The ‘Astronaut for a Day’ competition is arranged by the Luxembourg Space Agency.

Liégeois will begin his own space training this spring with the European Space Agency and told the online publication Paperjam that he anticipates his space launch—if he’s chosen from the pool of candidates—as occurring no earlier than 2026 and no later than 2031.

According to the Grand Ducal Court, Grand Duke Henri “congratulated the future astronaut” and “assured him that he will follow with great interest the adventures of the first Luxembourger in space.”

According to the Luxembourg Space Agency’s official website, their ‘Astronaut for a Day’ competition will mimic actual astronaut training to showcase and encourage teenagers to consider careers in the aeronautics field.

Between March and July of this year, applicants will participate in logical and physical testing in line with actual astronaut training. After the field is whittled down, the 25 winners will become space ambassadors and get to experience a zero-gravity flight this fall.

Liégeois was born and raised in Belgium and later studied there at university. He also attended post-secondary schooling in France. In December 2022, he met with King Philippe and gifted the Belgian monarch with a Tintin book about the famed character going to space.

The Luxembourg Space Agency was founded five years ago to develop the country’s space industry and encourage young people to consider a career in space exploration.

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.