Des­ti­na­tion Moon? Bel­gium joins the space race

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Bel­gian comic-strip hero Tintin helped pop­u­lar­ize the 1950s Space Race with his iconic car­toon rocket; seven decades on from the boy re­porter’s “Des­ti­na­tion Moon”, his coun­try is fi­nally get­ting its own ver­sion of NASA. The In­terfed­eral Space Agency of Bel­gium (ISAB) will be set up next year, sci­ence min­is­ter Elke Sleurs said, ar­gu­ing that it would help a lo­cal in­dus­try hang on to what is now a 5-per­cent share of the EU’s 7 bil­lioneuro a year space in­dus­try.

Chal­lenges from the likes of ris­ing pow­ers In­dia and China and chang­ing rules for EUwide ten­ders meant Bel­gium should pool re­sources to help its com­pa­nies com­pete, she said: “If we just keep the sta­tus quo, we risk los­ing out on space con­tracts.” About 60 firms in the lo­cal sec­tor in­clude the 96-year-old SABCA, which has worked on Europe’s Ari­ane rocket pro­gram.

Images from Tintin space sto­ries, start­ing with “Des­ti­na­tion Moon” in 1950, have be­come Bel­gian na­tional trea­sures and fed pop­u­lar fas­ci­na­tion world­wide with cos­mic ad­ven­ture. A sin­gle orig­i­nal draw­ing by his cre­ator Herge from 1954’s “Ex­plor­ers on the Moon” sold last week in Paris for 1.55 mil­lion eu­ros.—Reuters

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