Rotterdam, September 23, 1926 – Houses, August 26, 2021

Jan de Koomen passed away on Thursday, August 26, 2021, he would have turned 95 in September this year. With this we lose a pioneer and major promoter of Dutch space travel.

Jan was born in Rotterdam on September 23, 1926. As an engineer he initially worked in aircraft construction, where he worked on the design, development and testing of the Fokker Friendship, F27. From Fokker, he became involved at an early stage in the first industrial space activities in the Netherlands. As early as 1964, working at the research department ‘Manufacture and Product Research’, he was allowed to work on a quotation for the ESRO-II, one of the first satellites of ESRO. This did not yet lead to an assignment, but it did mean that Jan quickly became familiar with the development and construction of satellites. After the final realization of a Dutch space program in the period 1965 – 1967, and the selection of the ANS proposal, Jan de Koomen became leader of the project team. Later he was also the project leader of the Dutch part of the IRAS. His contribution to these projects, in collaboration with other pioneers, laid the foundations for Dutch industrial space travel.

Jan was a board member from 1969 to 1975 and chairman of the Dutch Space Association from 1976 to 1987. He was an active promoter of (Dutch) space travel. Even after his board years, he remained an active member of the association, which is reflected in his frequent attendance at events and contributions to articles in the Ruimtevaart magazine. From the mid-90s Jan was also involved in the space museum, which at that time was renamed the National Space Museum (NRM). Here too, Jan was a member of the board of the Ruimtevaart Museum Foundation (SRM) for many years, and he contributed to the museum as a volunteer until the end of his life.

Jan was known for his pragmatic approach, calm appearance and pleasant personality. He was also good at making line drawings, a skill he also used to develop the visual appearance of the various IRAS concepts. A well-known sketch of him is the drawing in which he has depicted himself between the ANS and the IRAS (see figure).

Honorary Membership NVR

In 1991, the year in which Jan de Koomen turned 65 and a jubilee year for the association, the NVR made him an honorary member of the association, because of his very special contributions to the association and space travel in general. The presentation of the honorary membership took place in the Space Expo Noordwijk on January 22, 1991. At the presentation, Jan himself gave a wonderful lecture about the development of Dutch industrial space travel, also published in the magazine Ruimtevaart of October 1991.

In the coming Ruimtevaart Magazine we will give further attention to the person Jan de Koomen.

zie ook Ruimtevaart 1991-5

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