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And the king, along with his son, visited the Ariane 5 launch pad, from which juice will be launched to Jupiter and its moons on Thursday. The two men were then flown over the center by helicopter and briefed on all of the “launch contract” challenges.
King Philip Millsbrook left Tuesday morning for French Guiana. He accompanies the King for the first time on an official visit to the nineteen-year-old Prince Gabriel.
“It’s historic,” says Secretary of State for Science Policy Thomas Dearmen (PS). It is the first time that a non-French head of state has come. Even our neighbors are a little jealous of the interest our king is showing in space travel.”
The king is passionate about space travel and in 1992 he already attended the departure of Dirk Freimut, the first Belgian in space. In 2002, King Philip was present at the return of Frank de Winne for his first space flight and in 2009 at his second departure. Last year, the King welcomed Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency, and Rafael Lejeua, the new Belgian astronaut.
Launch in the presence of the king
“Juice” is an acronym for “Jupiter Ice Moons Explorer.” It is a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). It will be the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than Earth. The unmanned spacecraft should reach Jupiter by mid-2031 to study the gaseous planet’s atmosphere, magnetic environment, and rings, among other things.
The launch date is set for Thursday at 9:15 AM local time (2:15 PM Belgian time). In adverse circumstances, the entire process is postponed and rescheduled. Météo France is currently forecasting thunderstorms on Thursday morning. The king may stay an additional 24 hours in Guyana, but no more than that.
With €305 million over the period 2023-2027, Belgium is the fifth largest funder of the European Space Agency.
“Belgian companies have played a major role in the launch programme,” confirms Philipp Wilkins, ESA’s director of communications.
“A launch is always important,” says Bernard Dumont, a Belgian who has lived in Kourou, French Guiana (Foreign Department in South America, ed.) for 32 years, and heads the communications department at the Guyana Space Centre. “It is vital to the 1,400 people who work here. We must not fail.”
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