We are space enablers

[ITW] Joost van Tooren: To the Moon and beyond! 03-30-2021 |  6 minutes


Joost has no equal when it comes to making complex space concepts easy to understand. Our Space Logistics Services Manager is ‘over the Moon’ about space transport


Joost has always been driven to explore and learn about other cultures. After university studies in his native Netherlands and a student internship in Texas in the United States, he got his first job in the aeronautical industry in Munich, Germany. Nine years later he joined ArianeGroup in Paris.

Can you tell us about your job in space logistics?

The future of space transport takes it inspiration from delivery services on Earth where transporting packages needs planes, trains, trucks, vans and scooters. In a similar fashion, I spend most of my time finding new ways to deliver future payloads by combining launchers and other space vehicles.

In particular you know about ArianeGroup’s involvement in systems for future lunar missions. Can you tell us about these missions?

We are currently planning to regularly travel to and near the Moon. This will require transporting a lot of equipment, fuel, water, vehicles, station modules and satellites.

What is ArianeGroup’s precise role in these missions?

First, travelling to the Moon requires powerful launchers like Ariane 6. We also need systems that allow for soft lunar surface landings. At the European level and at ArianeGroup, we want to open an ‘Earth–Moon highway’ and ensure reliable, efficient solutions for lunar transport systems.

Why is going back to the Moon important?

Humankind has always had a zest for exploration and an impulse to set out for new destinations. It is not enough to see pictures; we want to experience things for ourselves and explore further. That’s why we will to go back to the Moon and even further.

Will we be able to use our current propulsion systems for more distant missions?

Travelling further will mean journeys of many months – or even years. These missions will require robust vehicles and propulsion systems that can withstand the conditions of deep space and can protect payloads throughout their voyage. We are developing and testing the efficiency of systems capable of such voyages.

Our space fans love these topics. Were you yourself thrilled by space as a child?

Oh yes! I used to read everything about astronauts and the space shuttle I could get my hands on, and I dreamed about becoming a space pilot. Whenever I went swimming, I’d close my eyes and imagine I was floating in zero-gravity space.

You regularly take part in activities geared to making space science accessible to children. What’s the best way to introduce them to space concepts and technologies?

Rockets are cool! They’re massive, they produce a lot of flames and they make a lot of noise. So it’s easy to start by talking about some of the big challenges that engineers face. How do they control such powerful engines? How is it possible to lift off and fly in space, where there’s no air?

What advice would you give someone who wants to work in the space industry?

I’d say don’t just dream about it, make sure to educate yourself! Whenever you need motivation, imagine that you’re preparing yourself for a career in the space industry, and that one day it will be you building rockets, spaceships or even space stations!

Any questions for Joost? Feel free to submit them – use hashtag #AskOurEngineers – on our social media accounts. Stay tuned for another close encounter of the human kind!