Human activities in space play an ever increasing role in our society. Space missions have evolved from merely showcase events that explore new technologies in new environments to utilitarian operations that serve various purposes such as telecommunications around the globe, weather prediction or advanced research in zero gravity. In order to illustrate this, the European Space Agency (ESA) has estimated that only 5% of the space related industry is involved with the manufacture and launch of satellites! Therefore, space industry has grown over the past 50 years from a high profile niche activity to an economically very significant player in our society. As a consequence, it is also an important employer. Whereas in the early years the industry trained its staff on an ad hoc basis in a developing and growing research environment, nowadays new employees enter a well-established technological and business world. This implies that the space industry preferably recruits people that already have acquired the basic skills and knowledge that the industry itself has developed over the past decades. This is a considerable challenge since the space industry estimates that in the coming years over 40,000 people belonging to the pioneer generation will retire and consequently will have to be replaced by new employees.
In order to help fill this need, the KU Leuven and the UGent have joined efforts in offering a Master of Space Studies. This master is intentionally not an exclusively technological study, but is set up interdisciplinary. It is intended to form people who have at the end of their study basic knowledge of all aspects of space activities, and who are qualified to enter the space industry where they will acquire the more specific skills necessary for their particular job. The master has an international scope and audience and is taught in English.