Space odyssey ends for Wheathampstead astronaut hopeful

PUBLISHED: 12:16 26 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:16 26 July 2013

Wannabe space traveller Sue Nelson was put through her paces to join astronauts aboard a new space plane

Wannabe space traveller Sue Nelson was put through her paces to join astronauts aboard a new space plane


SHE laid off the chocolate and wine and upped her fitness routine, but it was not quite enough for a Wheathampstead science broadcaster to launch her space odyssey.

Astronaut hopeful Sue Nelson failed in her bid to pass a series of gruelling physical and mental tests in London recently, for a place on a new space plane.

She was one of 250 put through their paces to represent the UK at a global space camp in Orlando, Florida, for the final of a competition to join an international crew.

If she had been successful, Sue would have had the chance to become one of 22 astronauts to travel 103km above earth with space expedition company Spacexc.

In May, after a determined bid backed and publicised by the Herts Advertiser, she was one of 250 people, out of 87,000 who applied, voted through to the semi-final of the competition, organised by Lynx deodorant.

Sue was determined to show that women were up for the task and entered the national vote after being shocked that a sexist Lynx campaign was aimed at potential male astronauts only.

It barred women from taking part in eight countries.

She was one of just 45 women voted through to the national space challenge in London.

Sue said that while disappointed at failing to pass the tests, “neither did any of the women and most of them were at least 20 years younger than me and a hell of a lot fitter”.

The challenge involved an inflatable assault course similar to those used by the British Army.

She said: “It was really tough and required a lot of strength. I was exhausted.”

Asked about how women at the trial were treated, Sue, co-founder of award-winning podcast Space Boffins, replied: “I think Lynx realised they made a faux pas and as a result were especially keen to make amends on the day.

“The atmosphere was great; fun and supportive,” she said.

Sue dedicated her attempt to all women who aim high and “reach for the stars”.

The four successful semi-finalists – all men – now compete for just one place on the space plane.

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