Back in Orbit: Ian returns to the team at NL Space Campus and noticing a trend in Young Professionals

Ian van den Broek is back to NL Space Campus as project consultant for a project that NL Space Campus is doing with the European Space Agency (ESA). His journey into the space sector began during his final year at University College Groningen. Despite his non-technical background, Ian seized opportunities, starting with an internship at the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and later employment at S[&]T. His involvement in the LDE NL Space Campus Summer School in 2022 became a milestone, and not much later he became the National Point of Contact for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in the Netherlands.  

Ian’s Journey into the Space Sector 

Ian’s journey began during his last year of studying Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Groningen, where he envisioned a career in space. Despite his non-technical background, he took a chance by reaching out to space-related organisations and got a 6-month internship at the Netherlands Space Office. This was then followed by employment  at S[&]T as space business developer, focusing on a methane monitoring application using space data. During this period Ian participated in the LDE NL Space Campus Summer School in 2022. He learned about SGAC and later became the National Point of Contact for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in the Netherlands. During that time, he joined the Summer School team to support them in the 2023 edition.   

(Re)joing NL Space Campus

Recently, Ian completed an internship at the European Space Agency (ESA), concentrating on Business Incubation Centres, and a network focused on talent development for the European new space sector (ESA_LAB@). Being employed by NL Space Campus, Ian is now project consultant for the ESA_LAB@ initiative, leveraging his prior involvement with ESA and the NL Space Campus team.  

For the next evolution of ESA_LAB@, Ian will contribute to understanding the interests and needs of the network, proposing integration strategies for existing commercialisation initiatives, and formulating recommendations for talent development in the European new space sector. His main tasks include conducting interviews with partners and ESA, drafting project deliverables and preparing meetings with the ESA_LAB@ network. Through this collaboration between ESA and NL Space Campus, the ESA_LAB@ network can evolve into a network with even more added value for ESA and the involved knowledge institutions. 

Empowering the Next Generation in Space

Ian enjoys contributing to NL Space Campus and the Dutch space industry by working on the success of this ESA project, while fostering talent development and enhancing industry collaboration. During his work at NL Space Campus, he anticipates gaining valuable experience in talent development, network structures, and project management, contributing to his personal and professional growth. Actively participating in various initiatives aimed at engaging the younger generation in the space sector is important to him. Alongside his involvement with SGAC, he serves as an ambassador for the NL Moonshots ’24 initiative, which connects students interested in space with industry experts, including astronauts, to collaborate on ambitious ‘moonshot’ ideas. These ideas, often perceived as challenging or even impossible, push the boundaries of what is achievable. The finale of Moonshots ’24 will take place during NL Space Week. 

Exploring the Rise of Youth Participation in the Space Sector

Ian has noticed a growing trend within the space industry, where an increasing number of young individuals are not only expressing interest in space but also actively seeking opportunities. Perhaps partly due to the developments of New space companies like SpaceX, enthusiasm in space has taken off to a new level. More and more opportunities for interested people, like the LDE-NL Space Campus Summer School, have popped up in recent time, raising awareness that space is for all. This shift challenges the traditional perception that space is exclusively for those with technical backgrounds like aerospace engineering. For Ian personally, this realization opened doors to opportunities he never imagined possible, making the prospect of working in the most innovative and forward-thinking sector a tangible reality. 

Vision for NL Space Campus: an internationally acknowledged model for thriving and successful space ecosystems

Ian is excited to work with the NL Space Campus team again. When asked about his vision for NL Space Campus, Ian outlines several key points. Firstly, he envisions a dynamic and bustling NL Space Campus where individuals from diverse backgrounds and organizations have many opportunities to interact serendipitously. Secondly, he envisions a fully developed ecosystem comprising all the necessary elements and partners essential for a robust and thriving space industry in the Netherlands. These elements include ESA, startups, the investor community, technology developers, scientists, end-users and of course many young talents. Additionally, Ian advocates for events facilitating connections between startups and investors, various networking opportunities, and an environment conducive to the development of groundbreaking technologies even without an initial business case. Finally, Ian aims for the framework and ecosystem of NL Space Campus to serve as an internationally acknowledged model for success for other regions and countries. 

How Can You Reach out to Ian?

If you wish to contact Ian regarding the ESA_LAB@ project, you can reach out to him via Additionally, for inquiries about joining SGAC as a student or Young Professional (YP), Ian can be reached at . Looking ahead, Ian will be participating in the 2024 Space Studies Program (SSP) in Houston, United States, further enriching his expertise and networks within the space sector. 

Want to learn about possibilities in the space industry yourself? Join us at our monthly NL Space Campus Network & Drinks! As a student you may want to join the LDE NL Space Campus Summer School, just as Ian did. Want to know more? Visit the website or talk to former students during one of our monthly Network & Drinks.  

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