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Belgian organisation signs space research agreement with NASA

06:03 24/06/2022

Belgian aeronautics and aerospace non-profit The von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) has signed a Space Act Agreement for structural cooperation with NASA, RTBF reports. VKI researchers will help their American colleagues to ensure that NASA spacecraft withstand their dangerous re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and the atmospheres of other planets.

The von Karman Institute researchers will develop computational models and carry out testing campaigns for NASA on the heat shields of spacecraft that the Americans want to send to Mars. “The von Karman Institute has been known in the American scientific world for decades,” said Kent Bress, head of international partnerships, who signed the agreement for NASA.

“Each time we go to a new planet, we come across a certain number of surprises, linked in particular to the composition of their atmosphere,” said Peter Grognard, director of the von Karman Institute. “But despite the large number of challenges that may exist, you only have the option to do something that has never been done before. That's why it's important to be able to make the most educated guess possible.”

Such collaboration between the USA and Belgium has existed since the creation of the von Karman Institute in 1956: American students come to Belgium to specialise in fluid dynamics, while VKI researchers regularly visit the NASA Ames Research Centre in California. Thanks to the new cooperation agreement, this collaboration will now take place on a structural basis.

Written by Nick Amies