Wannabe Wheathampstead spacewoman hopes to have the Lynx effect

Wheathampstead's Sue Nelson is vying for a place to be an astronaut

Wheathampstead's Sue Nelson is vying for a place to be an astronaut - Credit: Photo supplied

A SEXIST advertising campaign exhorting blokes to “leave a man, come back a hero” by flying 103km above earth has prompted a determined Wheathampstead woman to launch her own space race.

Science broadcaster and writer Sue Nelson was shocked that an international Lynx deodorant campaign offering 22 astronaut places on a new space plane was aimed specifically at men and banned women from entering in eight countries.

So Sue has set out to prove she is no space cadet by entering the competition herself, promoting and encouraging other women to do the same via social media, and thus even out the sexes in space.

But the bid to leave as a woman and come back a heroine has one major drawback – Sue needs votes, and plenty of them, by the end of this month.

Lynx has been promoting the space trip by asking people sign up to its space academy, then getting their friends to vote for them, with the top 200 advancing to a national challenge.

Those voted through to the next round will complete a number of physical and mental challenges at a secret location in London. The top four recruits will then go through to a global space camp in Orlando, Florida, for a second competition, to join an international crew.

The contest includes taking off in a jet that travels at twice the speed of sound.

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Contestants will also undertake a test that recreates the weightlessness of space.

A panel of space experts will then select those contestants worthy of a trip to space.

Once trained, the winning astronauts will travel 103km above earth with space expedition company Spacexc.

Sue said: “I assumed enough younger women with more energy than me would storm through but it appears the ad campaign is too successful. In the UK so far only 16 in the top 200 are women.”

So she has entered late in the race and has a message for those marketing the deodorant: “Space science and being an astronaut is not just for the boys!”

Since launching her attempt to don a spacesuit and follow in the footsteps of the first British woman to go into space, Helen Sharman, Sue’s position in the space race has gone from 13,468th to 336th at the time of going to press.

Among her supporters is Cait Rickard, the sixth form head at Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden.

She said the school was happy to support Sue’s bid to enter space as she had regularly spoken to sixth formers about careers in science, and “her knowledge and enthusiasm has been infectious”.

Sue is a presenter of the award-winning Space Boffins podcast.

Cait added: “She is a fantastic role model to all our students, but particularly to the girls as it is really important for them to understand that there are no limits to their aspirations and that all careers are open to them.

“We have high numbers of students studying for maths and science A-levels, then moving on to science degrees at university and role models like Sue play a vital role in convincing students that careers in science are exciting and rewarding.”

Cait added that pupils would be encouraged to vote for Sue’s bid to be chosen for the space camp.

She went on: “After all we never want to go back to the days when a leading NASA scientist can say that he’d rather send a monkey into space than a woman!”

The Herts Advertiser is also backing the vote for Sue. To help her reach the top 200, go to https://www2.axeapollo.com/en_GB/343780/sue-nelson