(L-R) Claude Meisch, Luxembourg's Minister of Education, Children & Youth; Raphaël Liégois, ESA astronaut; Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy; Georges Engel, Luxembourg's Minister of Sport; Credit: © SIP/ Julien Warnand

As part of its fifth anniversary celebrations, the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) is organising several events throughout the year to introduce the general public to space, including the national competition "Astronaut for a Day", open days dedicated to Luxembourg's space ecosystem and the Summer Space Festival.

Astronaut for a Day

Organised by the LSA in collaboration with Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth and the Ministry of Sport, the "Astronaut for a Day" competition aims to promote the space sector, particularly among young people. The competition is aimed at young people aged thirteen to eighteen who attend school in Luxembourg.

The different stages of the competition are inspired by the selection process for professional astronauts practised by space agencies around the world. The competition tests will thus consist, among other things, of logic and physical aptitude tests which will be organised between March and July 2023. The 25 finalists will be selected to be part of the "Astronaut for a Day" class and will become space ambassadors in their school community. They will experience a weightless flight from Luxembourg on 28 September 2023.

The registration procedures, the rules of participation and frequently asked questions are available on the www.astronautforaday.lu website which is available in Luxembourgish, French and English.

During the press conference to present this competition on Wednesday 1 March 2023, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, said: "As an integral part of the missions of the LSA, the training of skills and the development of talents is essential to ensure the development of the space sector in Luxembourg. With this in mind, and to celebrate its fifth anniversary, the Luxembourg Space Agency is organising this competition to raise awareness among children, students, and more broadly the general public, about space in general and the many related professions."

Minister of Sport, Georges Engel, added: "As part of our 'Lëtzebuerg lieft Sport' concept, the physical aptitude tests organised as part of this competition show students how important a physically active life is to certain professions. Sport transmits values that are also important for astronauts. It is through sport that most people learn to integrate and evolve within a group, to develop leadership skills and to respect rules. These are also essential skills for an astronaut during his stay in space."

Minister of Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, highlighted that "the evolution of the school offer in recent years, the creation of new sections, new courses and options as well as the development of projects in the fields of science bear witness to the important place that currently occupies the field of space in our schools. The national competition 'Astronaut for a Day' is therefore fully in line with the promotion of scientific and technical skills in space professions. However, this competition is above all an opportunity that can make many young talents in secondary school dream by allowing them to live a unique experience."

Also on this occasion, Belgian-Luxembourgish astronaut Raphaël Liégeois welcomed the initiative to organise this competition and testified to his personal experience when he was successfully selected to become an astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Open Days

In collaboration with the LSA, about 20 Luxembourg-based space companies and startups will open their doors to the general public throughout 2023 to introduce all interested parties to their activities. Since the LSA's creation in 2018, the number of companies active in the space sector and based in the Grand Duchy has more than doubled; today, nearly 75 companies employ 1,400 people.

From lunar exploration to the manufacture of satellites and telecommunications, these open days offer the public the possibility of meeting experts in space companies and discovering the technologies and projects of tomorrow through guided tours, workshops and rover demonstrations, among other activities.

The list of companies participating in this initiative will be expanded over time and is available here. Registration is free but compulsory.

Summer Space Festival

Created in Lille (France) in 2020, the Summer Space Festival (SSF) is a free public festival which aims to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts, raise awareness of the importance of space in daily life, inform young people about career opportunities in the sector and promote space innovation in the Greater Region. This year, the event will take place in Luxembourg on 5 and 6 May, with the support of the LSA (main event partner as part of its fifth anniversary). The festival will also be an opportunity for participants to meet former ESA astronauts, whose annual meeting will be held at the same time in Luxembourg.

The first day of the festival will be reserved for students and school groups and will notably focus on the theme of ethics in space. The second day will be open to all and will give pride of place to space animations, conferences and workshops of all kinds.