Luxembourg’s “Space Campus” is ready to take off

The government is accelerating the space sector by building a “Space Campus” that will bring together all private and public players at two sites in Kokelscheuer and Belvale.

He announced it a few months ago, here he is on the launch pad: a large space campus will soon be built in Luxembourg, with the ambition to make it “the future center of gravity of the ecosystem”, as the minister described it. Economy, Franz Fayot, yesterday morning, during the official presentation of the concept, along with the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Claude Meisch.

Established on two sites in Kockelscheuer and Belval, this “space campus” will be exclusively dedicated to the space sector and will ensure the competitive position of companies and public research institutions in the area to facilitate the installation and grouping of local actors. and international.

A sector where Luxembourg is starting to weigh in

“The new campus is consistent with what we have already undertaken in the space sector since launching the initiative in 2016”, underlines Claude Meisch. Namely: the Luxembourg Space Agency, established in 2018, the interdisciplinary master’s degree in space opened at the university in 2019, or the European Center of Innovation for Space Resources, created within Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (List) in 2020, and of which the European Space Agency (ESA) is a strategic partner.

A growing sector in which Luxembourg is starting to weigh in: “The interest in the Luxembourg ecosystem is considerable, we realize it at the international level”, notes Franz Fayt. “In just six years, Luxembourg’s space sector has developed strongly and today there are 75 companies and research institutes – about fifty before the pandemic – for a total of 1,200 employees”, he continued.

For Claude Meisch, “small Luxembourg has great ambitions”, but also resources that larger countries lack: “We have a head start, because we started a little earlier than others, and we are more flexible and responsive.”

A start-up incubator in Kockelscheuer

It was the land of the former Poudrerie and its seven hectares in Kokelscheuer that were chosen for space activities directly linked to the company. The new ParcLuxite will thus include both office space and shared technical infrastructure, including a 3,000 m.2, and a start-up incubator. It will also house the headquarters of the Luxembourg Space Agency. The laying of the first stone is scheduled for 2024, with commissioning by 2026.

Belval, for its part, will host on two hectares, the subject of public research, such as the laboratory of the University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Safety, Reliability and Confidence (SnT) and the European Center of Innovation for the LIST space resource. A brand new building will emerge from the grounds, opposite the open car park, near the Maison du Savoir, with the removal of the last equipment from the Kirchberg campus planned for 2027 or 2028.

The economy minister believes that this future “space campus” will “strengthen Luxembourg’s visibility and attractiveness on the European and international scene, with economic players as well as the scientific community”. The total budget of the project has not been disclosed.

Lunalab, a unique facility

Lunalab, hidden in the basement of the Kirchberg campus of the University of Luxembourg, is one of the few facilities in the world that simulates lunar conditions to test applications such as autonomous navigation of lunar robots, interaction between robots, extraction or manipulation. lunar surface

80 m in this dark room2, the ground was covered with 20 tons of basalt gravel to reconstruct the typical bedrock of our natural satellite, including its craters and its relief, and to allow students and researchers to test their vehicles in real conditions. It is equipped with twelve sophisticated sensors with which they follow the progress of their automated programs and the movement of the robot, to the nearest millimeter, on the screen, from the next room.

A larger-than-life moon devoted to researchers’ experiments.

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