The Netherlands Space Office (NSO) is the governmental Space Agency of the Netherlands. Its task is to advise upon and realise the national space policy. NSO’s new director Harm van de Wetering shares his views on the Dutch space sector and its governments involvement.
What is the quintessence of your job, what is it you do?
As director of the Netherlands Space Office, I am responsible for realising the national space policy. That may not sound all too spectacular. But what I like about my job is that the investments of the Dutch government – investments in innovative space-sollutions – benefit many millions if not billions of people on the entire planet.’
We see the commercialisation of space. Are governments still necessary?
‘I am convinced that governments still play a crucial role in many space projects. Especially in projects where the profits are for the society as a whole or where there’s a big advantage in the field of science.By working together with companies and knowledge institutes in their own country, but also by working together internationally, through ESA for example. Together we can accomplish projects like Galileo and Copernicus that a single country cannot and will not undertake. It are projects like these that shape the future of our society.’
What can a small country like The Netherlands contribute?
‘Being the host country of ESTEC, the largest establishment of ESA, The Netherlands has proven to be a breeding ground for innovative space solutions. The Dutch space sector is eager to team up with international partners to develop state-of-the-art technology and smart applications that benefit all people on Earth.’
What are these ‘benefits’ of space?
‘Space technology and satellite data can help us to deal with today’s global challenges. Understanding climate change, monitoring air quality, safe navigation and effective communication – all are possible thanks to satellite data generated by precision technology in space.’
What will NSO – and thus the Dutch government - focus on the next decade?
‘We have a proven track record when it comes to structures for launchers, solar arrays, small satellites and satellite instruments. Our companies produce some of the best space hardware in the world that is used not only by ESA, but also by NASA and other space agencies. And then there is our innovative strength.’
‘Space start-ups and small companies that create new applications for water management, climate research, food security, mobility and other fields where satellite data can make a difference. That is why, near ESTEC and the Galileo Reference Centre, we are creating a Space Campus where the new and known space companies will meet, match up and create the applications of the future. From what I have seen, the possibilities are limitless.’