VUB and ULB immerse high school students in the world of space travel

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Universities host five astronauts, including Dirk Frimout, and numerous scientists during Space Day

Thursday 20 October - This year marks 30 years since Dirk Frimout became the first Belgian in space and 20 years since Frank De Winne followed him. To celebrate these two special events, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) organised the second Space Day.

1,300 pupils from the 4th, 5th and 6th grade of secondary school were introduced to five astronauts and the wonderful world of space exploration. During the programme in ULB’s Paul-Emile Janson auditorium, VUB and ULB researchers talked about their research and its impact on space travel. They discussed topics such as how astronauts are protected during their return to Earth, and the impact of weightlessness on bone health. And - of course - how likely it is that extraterrestrial life exists.

After the scientists’ presentations, three representatives of the Belgian space industry described their sector. Finally, the children had 90 minutes to ask the astronauts questions.

This Q&A session was a highlight of Space Day, not least because of the astronauts’ renown. Besides Dirk Frimout, there was Charles Bolden - a former Nasa administrator, with four shuttle missions to his name - former Nasa astroanut Anna Fisher and Robert Thirsk, who spent six months on the International Space Station. Vladimir Pletser of the European Space Agency was also there.

Space Day is part of Belgian Space Week, during which various cities organise themed events. With the initiative, VUB and ULB aim to get secondary school students excited about sciences in general and space research in particular. After the Q&A, the visitors left for the nearby VUB Main Campus student restaurant to enjoy a Space Lunch with VUB vice-rector for Research Pieter Ballon and his ULB colleague Marius Gilbert, among others. Several students also joined them.

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Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it-s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an -urban engaged university-, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.

www.vub.be/dewereldheeftjenodig


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