There are amazing women, and there are extraordinary women. And that’s the least you can say about Nancy Vermeulen ...
When she was six years old, she tinkered together a telescope with magnifying glasses. When she was 15, she already guided tours at the observatory Urania in Hove, Belgium.
No wonder she became an astronomer. In order to have an opportunity to become an astronaut at the ESA (European Space Agency) she has become an airline pilot. She even flew with an Airbus 300 cargo plane to Baghdad during the Iraq war.
When things started to go down in aviation, she returned to science. She became a researcher at the Technical University of Delft (The Netherlands) and at the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) of Belgium where she helped developing a new instrument to measure climate change.
But flying remained her passion. During her off time she trained new pilots and she did aerobatics.
In 2008 she took part in the astronaut selections of ESA. Only one in ten participants was a woman.
In 2009 Nancy organized a "Zero Gravity Flight" for the Belgian national TV. She brought the different parties together (VRT, TU Delft), streamlined their programs and coached the participants during the event.
In 2010 she was Chief Organizer and Commander of the Mars Simulation Mission ‘MDRS90”. She applied with Mars Society-NASA and got sponsorship to lead a team on a “Mars simulation mission” in Utah, U.S.A.
After that Nancy worked as a flight instructor for professional pilots, flew private jets and became an independent specialist in “Space Training”.
And she still has more ambitions left...
“If one asked me to go do scientific research on Mars, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second!
Aviation and space travel are still a man's world. Even when I was a young girl, I felt my road wouldn’t be the easy one. You have to fight against a certain pattern of expectations and you have to stand firmly in your shoes.
I had to make my own way, but it was worth it. It made me the person I am now!”
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