Space research generates new technologies

Central government is investing in space research jointly with businesses and academia. It is a fact that space research increases our knowledge, creates jobs and enhances national security in the Netherlands. It also enables us to develop new products and services.

Space influences our lives more than we realise

Our daily lives are influenced by what happens in space, much more so than we realise. For example, thanks to space technology we can:

  • navigate with GPS and Galileo;
  • broadcast television programmes;
  • connect to the Internet;
  • measure air and water quality;
  • support agriculture and farm production;
  • generate weather forecasts and climate data through satellites.

Space sector

The Dutch space sector is made up of about 250 companies and knowledge institutions. Their activities include designing components for rockets and satellites and building complete satellite instruments and carrier rockets. In addition, several businesses specialise in developing services based on satellite data. The space industry falls under the Netherlands’ high-tech sector – one of the country’s top economic sectors.

The Dutch town of Noordwijk is home to the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) – the largest branch and technological heart of the European Space Agency (ESA). ESTEC carries out research together with the ESA’s 22 European member states and Canada. This research also extends to testing satellites before they are sent into orbit.

Dutch businesses benefit from the space industry

The Netherlands invests in European space programmes, such as

  • developing the European Ariane 6 launch vehicle;
  • studying the climate and air quality from space;
  • maintaining the International Space Station (ISS) and conducting experiments there;
  • developing new services based on data from various types of satellite (telecommunications, meteorology, navigation and Earth observation).

Participating in developments like these creates opportunities for entrepreneurs on the European market, and also generates new knowledge, jobs and income. Dutch companies are helping to build navigation satellites and rockets that can launch satellites. Other activities include the production of digital cameras for the ISS and small satellites for special assignments in space.


Tropomi is a Dutch satellite instrument that measures air pollution and greenhouse gases with great precision. Tropomi was successfully launched into space from Plesetsk, Russia in Siberia on 13 October 2017 and sends a daily report to earth until 2025. The Dutch government has invested around € 100 million in the past 7 years. The Tropomi instrument was developed and built in the Netherlands using mainly Dutch expertise. The European Space Agency (ESA) was in charge of the development and launch of the satellite with Tropomi.