Nancy Vermeulen already knew as a child what she wanted to be: "an astronaut". She worked at the observatory and planetarium of Antwerp in her free time. She completed her studies in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Antwerp cum laude / with distinction. Nancy Vermeulen has a Master of Science in Physics.
In 2008, it was finally time. Her space adventure could begin! Nancy was able to participate in the European Space Agency’s stringent astronaut selection process. Only one in ten candidates was female. To prepare for the extensive astronaut training program, Nancy Vermeulen learned scuba diving and followed a high-altitude training.
To increase her chances of becoming an astronaut for the European Space Agency (ESA), Nancy first wanted to learn to fly within the atmosphere. She therefore trained as an airline pilot at the Flight Academy of former Royal Belgian Airline Sabena and became one of the few female airline pilots. Nancy was responsible for VIP passenger flights and flew large Boeing 727 and Airbus 300 aircraft. She also put her life at risk during wartime by flying an Airbus 300 cargo plane to Bagdad. She received a special distinction for military operations from the American government for this.
Nancy Vermeulen was the commander and chief organizer of the "MDRS90" mars simulation mission. She developed this project, presented it to NASA’s Mars Society and obtained permission to train a team in a "Mars simulation mission" at the "Mars Desert Research Station" in Utah, U.S.A.
During the mission, Nancy learned how to carry out scientific experiments during a mission and what to do in an emergency.
As a scientist, Nancy Vermeulen conducted research at the University of Antwerp (Biomedical Physics) and at Delft University of Technology (new technologies for greener air traffic). Nancy Vermeulen was involved in working on a new instrument for measuring climate change from space for the Royal Belgian Meteorological Institute / Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence. She also lectures in physics and mathematics.
In 2011, Nancy Vermeulen personally met one the greatest pioneers of the commercial space travel industry, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, which offers space voyages. Sir Richard inspired Nancy Vermeulen not only to apply her knowledge and expertise to science, but to share it with the public at large too. Nancy Vermeulen is now a highly sought after speaker on international platforms.
SPACE TRAVEL INSTRUCTOR
Bringing the universe closer to people and vice a versa, that is Nancy Vermeulen’s personal mission. For that reason, Nancy was the first in Europe to develop a non-governmental training program in which prospective space travellers can prepare themselves for a space voyage. In 2011 was the kick-off, when Nancy Vermeulen gave training to a future private astronaut of Virgin Galactic.
In the meantime, Nancy Vermeulen became a flight instructor for professional airline pilots, an aerobatics pilot and an executive coach.
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