Women in space have made a lot of history. The top 10 women astronauts and space women to know
Just over 60 women astronauts have travelled in space in the last 50 years. On the other hand, almost 500 men space travellers have travelled throughout that time. Many of the few space women who did succeed in the selection and training processes faced sexist scrutiny and interrogation that none of their male co-workers had to deal with.
Women in space may have now penetrated Earth’s atmosphere in their hundreds. The ten most significant female space pioneers are listed below.
1. Valentina Tereshkova
The first woman to travel to space was an astronaut named Valentina Tereshkova. She was born in 1937 in Bolshoye Maslennikovo, USSR, and as a young child, she worked in a factory. And in 1963, when she was only 26 years old, she flew the Vostok 6 spacecraft by herself around Earth for a 48-hour orbit. After Tereshkova’s first space voyage, it was almost 20 years until the next female astronaut took to the skies. Since then, no woman has made a solo space journey.
2. Svetlana Savitskaya
Only Svetlana Savitskaya was the second female astronaut. She also set records as a jet pilot. In 1948, Savitskaya was born in Moscow. Savitskaya won the renowned World Aerobatic Championship in 1970, when she was only in her early 20s. Her skill with the air helped her land a job as a cosmonaut, and in 1982 she received her astronaut wings. She was only the second woman to enter space after Tereshkova in 1963.
3. Sally Ride
The first American woman to fly in space was Sally Ride. She earned her PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1978, and at the same time, NASA chose her as an astronaut candidate. She finally flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 after five years of preparation. She was the second woman to fly into space, less than a year after Svetlana Savitskaya. In 1984, Ride flew once again aboard the Challenger.
4. Christa McAuliffe
In the catastrophic Space Shuttle Challenger catastrophe of 1986, social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe from New Hampshire lost her life. McAuliffe never went into space, but her legacy endures to this day. NASA selected McAuliffe for their Teacher in Space Project in 1985. She was chosen as a means for the space agency to recognise teachers and inspire kids to pursue STEM jobs.
5. Mae Jemison
The first African American woman in space was Mae Jemison, who was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. Jemison was a success from a young age. Jemison was chosen by NASA to be an astronaut in 1987. In 1992, she went on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, working with her team to conduct an astounding 44 scientific experiments. Her first and only space flight was that one.
6. Eileen Collins
Collins was born in 1956, and during the course of her long education, she graduated with four college degrees from four separate universities. In 1990, she was chosen by NASA as an astronaut candidate. Eileen Collins performed a docking with the Mir space station on STS-63 in 1995, making history as the first woman to ever pilot the space shuttle. Later in her career, Collins’ crew was in charge of launching the large Chandra X-ray Observatory from the space shuttle.
7. Kalpana Chawla
The first astronaut of Indian descent was Kalpana Chawla. Soon after her graduation in 1988 from the US, she started working for NASA. Her research centred on vertical take-off and landing ideas, which are currently being developed by significant new spaceflight firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin. Chawla was chosen as an astronaut candidate in 1994. On the Space Shuttle Columbia, she made two space flights. Columbia, however, crashed back to Earth and was destroyed during her second voyage.
8. Peggy Whitson
The outstanding distinction of being the American astronaut who has spent the most time in orbit belongs to Peggy Whitson. Whitson was chosen by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1996, but she had already been a scientist for the organisation. Whitson made three lengthy trips to the International Space Station between 2002 and 2017, totalling 665 days in space.
9. Christina Koch
The record for the longest continuous stay in space by a woman belongs to Christina Koch. Koch was chosen by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 2013. Additionally, she embarked on Expedition 59’s launch to the International Space Station in October 2019. There would be six spacewalks during the 328-day stay, including the first all-female spacewalk.
10. Jessica Meir
Jessica Meir was born in Caribou, Maine, in 1977. Meir joined NASA’s aquanaut programme in 2002 and spent five days living underwater. She subsequently attained astronaut status as well, and in 2019 she launched to the International Space Station. Meir participated in the first all-female spacewalk with her companion, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, and spent hundreds of days on the ISS.