Past Projects

These activities are now completed or discontinued

Taste in space

The activity is aiming to demonstrate to primary students the differences in the way in which the sense of taste is affected under weightless conditions and on Earth by comparing the results of a blind tasting of 6 different food items on the ground and in space.

Video files of the demonstration accounting for almost an hour of material were downlinked to ground. The material will be used to produce ESA educational web based material for upper primary school teachers and their students aged 10-12 years old.

The recording of the demonstration will be used to produce ESA educational web based material for upper primary school teachers and their students aged 10-12.


In addition to purely operational mission, ESA programme board has also given to USOCs mission to promote at a national level the ISS activities, but also to use this program as a leverage to more generally promoted the various fields of space research

In this context, the BUSOC was identified as a major operational center for the conduct of operations of the two educational experiences the 2 and 3 which will be conducted by Frank De Winne during his stay in the ISS during the mission OasISS. As part of this activity will be used at European level to ensure the promotion of the Columbus program, in addition to writing operating procedures, the center will provide technical support for installation (s) site (s) Belgian (s ) that will be used for promotional events in relations with the mission


EPO3 Water properties

In the context of collaboration between ESA and UNICEF an overview lecture will be given with demonstration of various water properties. One live link to primary school students is required. Broadcast to Brussels planetarium with further distribution to various interested schools. The recording of the demonstration will be used to produce ESA educational multimedia material for upper primary school teachers and their students aged 10-12.


One live link to give students an appreciation of the differences between the conditions of weightlessness and gravity through 2 simple, curriculum relevant demonstrations related to mass measurement and capillarity. In parallel, a video recording will be made for later production of an ESA educational DVD for lower secondary school teachers and their students aged 12-14.


  • Support from early payload development onwards
  • Experiment/payload preparation (operations concept with PD and PI, operators training...)
  • Operations products development & validation (PODF, PR…)
  • G22 operations document (IIOP, EST, MOIC…)
  • ground segment (design & support)
  • ground model management
  • operations execution & support


The Portable Pwr Supply is an autonomous converter unit to distribute 28VDC to one or more payloads (up to three) taking the upstream power from 120VDC provided by ISS Columbus Module SUP.

KuPS is composed by a metal box containing all the required electronic parts and provided of interface connectors, on/off manual switches and autonomous cooling system (forced air convection). In addition, KuPS provides its own input power cable necessary to connect it to SUP J03 outlet (120VDC).

Operations :

  1. No commanding or display

  2. Crew Action

  3. Upload with 29S

  4. First payload: Tritel
    1. Installation of Portable PWR Supply
    2. Activation and checkout of Portable PWR Supply
    3. Connection and Activiation of Payload
    4. Experiment
    5. Desactivation and disconnection of payload
    6. Desactiviation of Portable PWR Supply
    7. Desinstallation of Portable PWR Supply


BRAMS (Belgian RAdio Meteor Stations) is a set of radio receiving stations using forward scattering techniques to study the meteoroid population. The project is coordinated by the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BISA), in the frame of the Solar-terrestrial Centre of Excellence (STCE). Most stations will be run by Belgian radioamateurs or groups of amateur astronomers. Two dedicated beacons located in Ieper (Western Belgium) and Dourbes (Southern Belgium) act as transmitters.

The main goals of this project are:

  • To collect and standardize the meteor observations of all the stations
  • To write codes for automatic detection of underdense/overdense meteor echoes
  • To compute meteoroid flux densities for meteor showers and mass indexes for meteor showers and sporadic meteors
  • To determine individual meteor trajectories
  • To determine orbital parameters of multi-station meteoroids
  • To analyse meteor profiles in order to retrieve physical parameters such as ionization, speed and mass of the meteoroids
  • To study head echoes and the so-called "epsilon" echoes
  • To promote radio-observation of meteors


The ZSCDF is an ISS payload developed by Astrium to allow the realization of the zeolite nucleation experiment. It is derived from the PCDF.

Following the restructuring of the network, payload was transferred to another USOC.


The experiment project has been selected by ESA : AO-2004-027, Self-assembly of hierarchical catalysts and absorbent materials from ordered liquid phases (OLPs).

The project is in the cornerstone of Material science (New materials, products and processes) Zeolites and structured porous silica materials play an important role in many industrial fields. They are used as catalysts, adsorbent materials and ion exchangers in a broad range of application from oil refining processes to the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Notwithstanding their importance, the industrial production of Zeolites is still a slow and not fully understood process.

The goal of the project is to improve insight into the molecular mechanisms of structuring of silica with the help of organic templates. The study is targeted to a specific system, the Silicalite-1 zeolite, for which a fair understanding of the molecular steps of its genesis from silicate monomer has been reached.

During Silicalite-1 synthesis, silica is polymerized around organic molecules serving as a template of the pores. Then, upon heating, the Silicalite-1 crystallizes forming a series of well recognized and self-organized steps: from small fragments to nanoslab to intermediate states from well known dimension that fuse into Silicalite-1 "crystals".

However recently a ground based experiment revealed the existence of larger entities at intermediate state that disappear at the onset of crystallization. Such structures are described as OLPs, a precursor stage where scattering particles are suspended in a liquid phase but retain a degree of long range spatial order.

An insight into the formation mechanisms and the processes affecting the properties of OLPs could shed light on the rheological parameters that drive the formation of porous silica.

The need for microgravity stems from the fact that gravity may strongly influence the structural properties of growing was found that gravity significantly slowed the aggregation of the smallest entities at the nanometer size thus allowing a better observation of the phenomenon.


Specific goals of the Zeolite experiment are:

  • To understand how general is the occurrence of OLPs during template directed formation
  • To understand the impact of shear and convection on OLPs during solidification
  • To clarify the relation between the structure of OLPs and the final solid phase
  • To gain expertise in generating targeted OLPs for synthesis of silicate material "on demand"


  • Experiment/payload preparation (operations concept with PD and PI, operators training...)
  • Operations products development & validation (PODF, PR…)
  • G22 operations document (IIOP, EST, MOIC…)
  • Ground segment (design & support)
  • Ground model operation for Science Runs and EST (Experiment sequence test)
  • Operations execution & support


Document 1.

Document 2.

PromISS 4

PromISS-4 is a Belgian experiment in the International Space Station (ISS) launched with the Progress 20P on 21th December 2005. Its main scientific objectives are to study proteins, to obtain in microgravity better crystals, to understand protein crystal growth processes.


The PromISS investigation includes a holographic microscope that allows the visualization of the protein crystal growth. Visualizing proteins can help the development of new drugs to fight diseases. Studying the processes by which these crystals grow in microgravity will help scientist better understand the role of the proteins in diseases.


  • support of the scientists during the inflight operations
  • upload of telecommands to the payload via HOSC

Mission Timeline

2005/12/14 Crew on-board training

2005/12/21 Launch of Progress 20P

2005/12/23 Docking of Progress 20P

2006/01/18 MSG Activation

2006/01/19 Activation promISS 4

2006/02/08 Stop Experiment

2006/02/08 MSG power down

2006/04/01 PromISS-4 sample return with Soyouz 11S

Involved Centres and Teams

Responsible scientists are Ingrid Zegers (VUB) for the science and Frank Dubois (ULB) for the hardware.

The B-USOC is the European responsible center for operations in coordination with NASA. This means that the Center is responsible for the science follow-on and any routine matter arising from operations. The European Space Agency ESA supports the mission. Within this framework the B-USOC is working together with its partner Space Application Services.

The design of the new experimental cells has been developped by Verhaert Space.

The Telescience Support Center (TSC) forms the direct link between the ground communications network and the ISS. The operations of the Promiss-4 experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) is continuous throughout 20 days. Astronaut Bill McArthur is the one to work on it.

At the end of the required period, the samples will be installed in the return container, which will be brought down back to Earth with the Soyuz 11S.

Media . PromISS Instruments.


Neurocog / Cardiocog

During the Increment 9 of the ISS utilization, two experiments with Belgian participation are hold in the Russian module: Neurocog (ULB, CNRS and CNES) and Cardiocog (KULeuven University and CNES). Both expedition 9 crew members (Russian cosmonaut Gennady I. Padalka, and the American astronaut Edward M. Fincke) are taking part to these experiments.


These experiments already flew during the previous Odissea and Cervantes short-duration missions; and this time, the scientists benefit from the opportunity to study the evolution of the activities of the brain and of the heart in microgravity on a long-term period.

Numerous sessions were foreseen and were distributed all along the increment duration: at the beginning (week 19, May 2004), in the middle (week 28, July 2004) and at the end (October 2004).

During each session, the various PIs and scientists follow the experiments' running in real-time from the B-USOC telescience and operations room (procedures and experimental timelines checks and corrections if needed). Scientists are therefore able to interact at any time with the other operational centers and coordinators involved (in ESTEC, in Russia) in case of need.


Support of the scientists during the inflight operations


May 8, July 5, 18 September and 18 October 2004, the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) running the Belgian experience Cardiocog. The objectives are to assess changes in cardiovascular function induced by long stays in an environment microgravi-ty, to compare the changes with the data before and after the flight and compare the effects of microgravity during continuous short periodsor during simulations.

On the ground, the B-USOC (Belgian User Support Operations Centre) keeps track of the experience and welcomes the leading researchers in close collaboration with ESA.


May 4, May 5, May 6, July 6, July 8, 20 and 22 September 17 October 19 October 2004, the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) running the Belgian experience Neurocog. With experience Neurocog, scientists want to study the effects that cause the conditions of spaceflight on the perception and memorization process spatiotemporal markers of astronauts when they conduct research in a virtual environment.


Transparent ALLOYS

The Transparent alloys facility, currently under development under ESA contract, aims to perform directional solidification experiments of transparent materials using the Bridgman technique.

Following the decisions of the last ESA ministerial conference in 2012, this payload has been transferred to another center of the USOC network

The facility is a multi-user facility and aims to support the in-situ study of solidification processes and phenomena of transparent alloys.

The samples are of flat, rectangular shape with variable heights and are pulled through the Bridgman assembly at variable speeds. The main diagnostics element of Transparent Alloys is optical observation with high resolution. The observation camera can observe the sample between the hot and cold zones of the Bridgman assembly at variable positions and viewing angles.


From January 16th 2003 to February 1st 2003, B-USOC hosted the Belgian Remote SOLCON Payload Operation and Control Centre (POCC), which was the only European PI Centre involved and being directly connected to NASA HitchHiker operation networks (via the ESA IGS network, managed by ESOC IGS control team).

The SOLCON experiment (developed by a team at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Brussels, and that was aimed at studying the Solar Constant) had flew on many previous Shuttle missions, and was this time implemented in the project Fast Reaction Experiments Enabling Science, Technology and Research (FREESTAR).


The mission roles and responsibilities were shared between all international partners:

  • The Space Shuttle Program (SSP) at JSC: overall mission management
  • The Hitchhiker Project at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC): management of FREESTAR payloads operations
  • The GSFC Attached Shuttle Payload Center (ASPC): POCC for the FREESTAR mission. The Operations Director (OD) was the principal interface authority for overall ASPC operations, to coordinate experiment status, replanning, and anomaly resolution. He worked closely with the SOLCON PIs in order to ensure the maximum data acquisition, commanding capabilities, anomalies troubleshooting
  • The Belgian POCC: centre of PIs, which determines the experiment objectives, communicates these objectives to the OD and to the experiment controllers, performs

The ground segment was implemented using both the IGS and the Internet networks in order to access NASA mission resources. Two HVoDS (managed by HOSC) keysets were used to contact operations partners. All tools necessary for data reception, monitoring, commanding (the experimental scenario required commanding on a very regular basis), timelines visibility and Shuttle tracking were implemented. The operation team included the SOLCON PIs, and ground infrastructure controllers from both SROC and B-USOC.


This mission following OdISSea was performed by Spain with the support of ESA between October 18th 2003 and October 28th. During this mission a member of the European Astronaut Corps of ESA from Spanish nationality, Pedro Duque, performed a large scientific programme (18 experiments, among which 6 Spanish and 7 Belgian, covering the same research fields as for OdISSea.) in collaboration with the Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri as Soyuz Commander, Michael Foale as Soyuz Flight Engineer and of the resident Expedition-7 crew Yuri Malenchenko (Commander) and Edward T. Lu (Flight Engineer).


This flight with spanish astronaut, Pedro Duque, left October 18, 2003. Duque spend eight days aboard the Space Station conducting science experiments under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

Duque was launched from Baikonur on the Soyuz TMA-3 craft with Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale and Expedition 8 Soyuz Commander and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri. The spanish astronaut returned to Earth on October 28 with US astronaut Ed Lu and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko who were on the ISS.

October 28, 2003 Back on Earth for Pedro Duque October 27, 2003 Packing and stowing specimens and equipment to be returned to earth October 26, 2003 PromISS 2 October 25, 2003 Cardiocog, Message, PromISS 2 October 24, 2003 Treatments of Message 2 samples October 23, 2003 Treatments of Message 2 samples October 22, 2003 Pedro Duque performs the Neurocog experiment October 21, 2003 Activation of the Nanoslab experiment October 20, 2003 Docking of Soyuz to the ISS October 19, 2003 Two days in orbit around the Earth before reaching the ISS October 18, 2003 Launch of Cervantes from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 07:38 October 17, 2003 Launch of Cervantes Mission is scheduled for October 18, 7:38 October 16, 2003 Briefing at B.USOC October 1, 2003 First steps for the setup of PromISS 2 August 30, 2003 A second progress was launched on to the ISS June 11, 2003 Progress M1-10 spacecraft was succesfully launched to the ISS


The Ground Segment made a reuse of the previously implemented infrastructure and B-USOC handled almost the same responsibilities during the operations. There were also some improvements:

all operations centers could access to the MCC-H mission gateway - and its web applications: Short-Term Plan (STP), Electronic Flight Notes (EFN), Joint Execute package Development and Integration (JEDI) only the Belgian MRC/ULB UHB was involved it has gain access to IGS mission quality videos forwarded from B-USOC, to theESA OCMS system and to the voice loops transferred via the dedicated ISDN lines of the B-USOC videoconferencing system all experiments were huge successes

The operational team working at B-USOC also involved people from the Belgian SROC and from the Belgian MTM/KULeuven UHB Ground Operations/Telescience teams. B-USOC regarded this successful mission as a further opportunity to extend the know-how of the Belgian operational community, and to BUSOC provided communication follow-up concerning B.USOC contribution to the mission and the Belgian experiment Promiss and created web pages over the mission with daily follow-up.


ESA’s astronaut Duque carried out a full scientific programme, spending some 40 hours of his eight day stay on the ISS on experimental activity. Most of the experiments were sponsored by the Spanish government although there were also several Belgian experiments part of this mission.

The B.USOC implemented in collaboration with the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) and the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) all technical means that allowed the Belgian Operation Centre to get connected to the mission communication networks to acquire, archive, and display in real-time all data and video transmissions from the Belgian experiments. The B.USOC was also connected by voice to the other mission centres. During the mission the B.USOC maintained and collected the technical requirements of the Belgian User Home Bases (UHB, user laboratory equipped for telescience) and was the interface between them and the European Space Agency (ESA).


The aim of VIP-GRAN experiment is to study the dynamics and the statistical mechanics of an ensemble of real particles that interact through collisions, i.e. ball-wall collision and ball-ball collision.

Following the decisions of the last ESA ministerial conference in 2012, this payload has been transferred to another center of the USOC network


Special care is taken to study the limits of weak interaction between the balls because of their small number (Knudsen regime) and the limit of strong interaction when the mean free path between 2 balls collision is less than the cell size.

Different ball sizes will be investigated, as well as different cell shapes and cell sizes and the effect of the parameters of vibration. Attention will be paid to properties of mixing and segregation.

Comparison with different limit cases will be achieved, i.e. with the dissipative billiard model and with the statistical mechanics of gas or of liquid.

The bead vibration will be driven by pistons moving back and forth in a cell volume of 30x30x70 mm. The cell will be exchangeable. The maximum piston acceleration will be 10g. The main diagnostic tool will be a CCD camera. The concept is described in the image below.