If there’s one Belgian who knows how aliens might look, it’s Angelo Vermeulen. In 2013, the 47-year-old Belgian was the only European selected by NASA for an ambitious project to prepare interstellar trips. During four months he and five others stayed in Hawaii in an environment that had to imitate life on Mars.
Not that the Belgian Buzz Lightyear had been trained to become an astronaut. On the contrary: Vermeulen studied photography and then obtained a PhD in biology. Soon he started to explore the boundaries between art and science by creating installations with intriguing names like 'Seeker' and 'Biomodd'.
The latter connects plants with computers. For example, the residual heat from the computers is used to grow a plant-based ecosystem, while the algae cool the processors.
To infinity and beyond
Thanks to this project, Vermeulen grabbed the attention of ESA, the European space program. Just like him, they want to develop closed ecosystems that ensure the recuperation of raw materials that would otherwise be lost.
Around this period, NASA launched a call for a project in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. On the island, the team led by Vermeulen checked, among other things, which eating patterns astronauts should have.
In the meantime, the Belgian also started another PhD - this time at Delft University of Technology. There he’s doing research into 'starship design'. Sounds futuristic? Hell yeah! Vermeulen has the ambition to travel beyond our solar system. Eat your heart out, Tuscany.
At Gears, our conference for and by developers on June 21st, Vermeulen will tell you everything about 'starship design'. Be inspired and travel to infinity and beyond!