“The European Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence is a major development for the Belgian ecosystem.” 

RHEA Group is a systems engineering company headquartered in Belgium, with a strategic focus on both space and cyber. The Group provides bespoke engineering solutions, systems development and security services to critical infrastructures, mainly in the space, defence and security sectors. Pascal Rogiest, Chief Commercial Officer of RHEA Group, explains how the organisation expanded its initial DNA of space to include cyber, and why it is taking part in the Cyber Security Coalition. 

Aerospace PhD engineer Pascal Rogiest spent the first 20 years of his career working for SES, the world’s leading satellite telecommunications network provider. “As a satellite engineer, I worked on technical aspects and operations, such as satellite launches. I gradually took on a more commercial role within the company, eventually becoming Vice President responsible for Mergers and Acquisitions for the SES Group.”  

In 2015, Pascal changed profession, and stepped into the field of cybersecurity. “I had the opportunity to join LuxTrust, the equivalent of itsme in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After only three months as the International Business Developer, I became CEO of the company, and turned this local player into an international reference. Within five years, we doubled our staff and turnover.” Longing to return to his first passion, and with his background in space and cyber, Pascal then found an ideal fit with the DNA and strategy of RHEA Group, where he currently holds the position of Chief Commercial Officer. 

From analogue to digital 

So where do cyber and space connect? “The space system used to be analogue, with no cyber risks or threats. As the technology evolved, the applications progressively evolved in tandem,” Pascal explains. The satellite system switched from purely space-based to an IT domain, which brought along the risk of cyber-attacks. “That is why, thanks to the Belgian Government, RHEA expanded its focus to include cyber, in order to protect the entire European space system and the European Space Agency (ESA).” 

Together with ESA, in the late 2010s RHEA Group invested in the new Cybersecurity Operational Centre in Redu, in the province of Luxembourg, Belgium. “Redu has long been the scene of promising new cybersecurity and education activities. This investment expanded RHEA Group’s operations and supplements its cybersecurity training capabilities.” 

Centre of Excellence 

Together with IDELUX, the Group is also developing a European Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence in Transinne, Belgium, within walking distance of Redu. “RHEA will apply its unique combination of expertise in space and security to contribute to the new Centre of Excellence that will provide the full range of cybersecurity services. This Centre will stimulate the convergence of institutional, academic and industrial players in the field of cybersecurity, and thus the creation of talent and expertise that is urgently needed in our digital economy. We will also support emerging secure technologies such as quantum key distribution and 5G/6G communications, both for research and operational purposes.” 

Internally, the need for a more structured approach to cybersecurity is also having a positive impact. “Over these past years, we have accumulated a lot of expertise in cybersecurity for space. Today, the Group consists of more than 100 cybersecurity experts and over 800 staff. We recently created a cybersecurity division that provides cybersecurity expertise throughout the entire Group,” Pascal continued. 

Cyber ecosystem 

RHEA truly believes cyber is a challenge that cannot be addressed by one or even a few actors. “The cybersecurity landscape is evolving extremely rapidly, which makes it impossible to keep up with all the changes in laws and regulations. That is what motivated us to join the Cybersecurity Coalition, to share our experiences and contribute to shaping the cybersecurity ecosystem. In return, we receive extremely valuable advice from the other members. Together we facilitate and stimulate talent, education, awareness and innovation.” 

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