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De Croo and aspiring Belgian astronaut Raphael Leguis visit NASA in Houston

De Croo and aspiring Belgian astronaut Raphael Leguis visit NASA in Houston

Rafael Liegua was selected in November 2022, along with four other Europeans, to be part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut team, with the initial goal of spending approximately six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The nearly 36-year-old engineer, neuroscience researcher, and hot air balloon pilot has just begun his basic training. Training takes place mainly at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne (Germany), but also in other partner countries of this international programme, including Russia, Japan, Canada and of course the United States.

On Saturday afternoon (local time), the Belgian astronaut, accompanied by the Prime Minister, visited the US Space Agency’s Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Like the Prime Minister and his entourage, he was able to see life-sized versions of the various modules that make up the International Space Station, as well as a replica of the future spacecraft for the Artemis mission, NASA’s program aimed at returning humans to Earth. The International Space Station by 2025. To bring the moon.

“It’s my first time here in Houston, and it’s very emotional,” Rafael Leguis told some reporters. “We will be here for two years once we get the job,” he added. The five new European astronauts are expected to go into space between 2026 and 2030.

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