The Women who made their marks in the History of Space Travel

Space travel indeed is the utmost adventure ever to ignite the interest of the human race to explore the unknown.  It is their chance to explore the moon, the planets, the stars and beyond.  Giant rockets lift off with roaring blast of orange flame.  They reach for the blue skies and leave a trail of white line.  They are headed into space where the vast skies above them are all black.  The only light that shines are that of the guiding stars which look down upon them.

Astronauts and cosmonauts gamble their lives in the look out for information about the earth, moon, planets, stars and the effects of weightlessness on human beings and other living things.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA chooses two kinds of astronauts for space flights – pilot astronauts and mission specialists.  Pilot astronauts command and control spacecraft.  Mission specialists take care of the spacecraft and its equipment, conducts tests, puts into orbit the satellites and carries out the other activities (Hamilton, 2001).

The space shuttle was the first manned spacecraft intended to be reusable.  It allows space flights to be scheduled on a routine basis.  On a typical mission, the shuttle rockets into space with its crew, remains in orbit for about a week, and then lands on the earth like an airplane.  It can be ready for another flight in about four weeks (Imaginova Corporation, 2008).

(Photo of a space shuttle. KTB, “Space Shuttle,” 2008)

The space shuttles were designed to carry artificial satellites, space probes, and other heavy loads into orbit around the earth.  Other spacecraft can launch such objects, but only the space shuttle can be reused.  Each shuttle was intended to be used more then 100 times.  In addition to launch operations, the shuttles can recover artificial satellites that need repair.  Satellites that cannot be repaired in space can be brought back to the Earth and then sends – off again after they are serviced.  The shuttle also could permit astronauts to create and maintain manned space stations and solar power stations in earth orbit (Imaginova Corporation, 2008).

The first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, made 45 revolutions around the earth in 1963.  Twenty years later, astronaut Sally K. Ride became the first American woman in space.  In June 1983, Ride orbited the earth with four other crew members on a six – day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger (Hamilton, 2001).

During the early years of the space age, success in space became a measure of a country’s leadership in science, engineering and national defense.  As a result, the United States and the Soviet Union competed with one another in developing their space programs.  Each of them, for example, sought to build better rockets and spacecrafts than the other in order to reach the moon initially (Hamilton, 2001).

Many people tried to compare the space accomplishments of the United States and the Soviet Union to see which country was “ahead.”  But differences in the two space programs made comparisons difficult.  In the early 1960’s, the Soviet Union had powerful rockets that could launch heavy spacecraft on long flights.  But the United States led in the number of scientific spacecraft that it had launched, and in such fields as communication and weather – reporting by satellite (Hamilton, 2001).

By the early 1970’s, U.S. astronauts had landed on the moon.  Unmanned Soviet spacecraft had explored the moon and brought soil samples to the earth.  Manned exploration of the moon by the United States ended in 1972.  Both countries experimented with manned space stations that orbited the earth.  Nevertheless, both nations began to realize that they could benefit from working together on selected scientific projects (Hamilton, 2001).

Geraldyn “Jerrie” M. Cobb

Geraldyn Cobb did not wait too long to earn her achievements.  Starting young, she already been receiving recognitions for the things people her age or even older can only dream to have accomplished.  While kids her age were kept busy by concerns regarding school and the adolescent life, they young Jerrie is set to leave her mark in history (, 2008).

(Photo of astronaut Geraldyn Cobb. Womenfly, “Jerrie Cobb,” 2008)

Aboard the backseat of the 1936 model open – cockpit Waco biplane piloted by Lieutenant Colonel William H. Cobb, his daughter, Jerrie, then just 12 years of age was launched into her maiden flight.  At the tender age of 16, Jerrie received her license as a private pilot from the Oklahoma City Classen High School.  Her license as a commercial pilot on the other hand was bestowed upon her when she turned eighteen.  Not so long after, she has also earned her Flight Instructor Rating among other accomplishments (, 2008).

Cobb’s romance with a co – pilot met its tragic conclusion after his airplane blasted over the depths of the Pacific.  Theirs was a romance that lasted for only about three years.  Nonetheless, Cobb’s career as a commercial pilot made it possible for her to establish various world records of altitude and speed.  She made history aboard the airplanes constructed by the Aero Design and Engineering Company.  The Oklahoma – based company dubbed their airplanes as the Aero Commanders (, 2008).

Wally Funk

(Photo of astronaut

Wally Funk. Heroines in Aviation, “Photo of Wally Funk,” 2008)

The year was 1961 when Toas, New Mexico’s Wally Funk was lined up together with 12 other women to join the “Women in Space” program.  The women came to be called the Mercury 13.  Unfortunately, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration cancelled the program at the latter part of the same year.  Two years after the sad plight of the Mercury 13 women, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union flew into space.  Nevertheless, the women of the United States did not lose heart to fulfill their dreams of flying into space.  It took several years for this dream to be realized.  Come the year 1983 when astronaut Sally Ride made history by tearing down the barrier that denied access for women to explore the universe.  This was the sex barrier that hindered Funk and the rest of the American women of their supposed maiden voyage into space.  Ride flew into space via the Challenger STS – 7 to fulfill the mission and dream she shares with Funk and company (Burbank, 2003).

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova

(Photo of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkva. BHTimes, “Valentina Tereshkova,” 2008)

The Vostok was the first manned spacecraft of the Soviet Union.  From the year 1961 until 1963, there has been a total of six Vostok spacecrafts that took off into space.  Each of these six vehicles carried one cosmonaut per voyage.  This spacecraft were designed to perfect the technology of spacecraft and also to examine the reactions of the human being to space exploration (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

The first woman ever to set her foot into space was a cosmonaut by the name of Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova.  The Soviet Union’s Tereshkova flew into space via the Vostok 6 that went into orbit on the sixteenth day of June in the year 1963.  Her flight lasted almost three whole days.  In this voyage, Tereshkova did not just earned pride for her country but represented the women from the rest of the globe proving that women can do what other’s believe can only made possible by the male of species.  For a woman who holds no experience in pilot testing, Tereshkova making history is really astounding.  Aboard the Vostok V1, Tereshkova was able to revolve around the earth for 45 times.  Another space flight that carried Vallery F. Bykovsky, also a Soviet cosmonaut was in orbit at the same time as Tereshkova.  Bykovsky was launched two days earlier than Terehskova.  He took off into space for a 70 – hour and 50 – minute space flight that begun on the sixteenth day until the nineteenth day of June in the year 1963.  An approximate distance of 3 miles separated the vechiles carrying Bykovsky and Tereshkova during the mission.  The dual mission was carried out for the purpose of concurrently observing the reactions of a man and woman soaring in space, as the Soviet officials would have it (Wade, 2007; National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Tereshkova made a single orbit around the earth for every 88 minutes during the mission that changed the history of space travel.  The highest point in the orbit refereed to as the apogee lifted Tereshkova at approximately 130 above the earth.  On the other hand, she was about 108 above the earth at the perigee or the lowest point in orbit.  The spacecraft that made a it possible for Tereshkova to fulfill her historical mission was maneuver by manual controls (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Sally Kristen Ride

Sally Kristen Ride aboard the STS – 7, which took off to explore the space on the eighteenth day until the twenty – fourth day of June in the year 1983 became the first American woman to reach the space.  The STS – 7 was the seventh space shuttle mission launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  This exploration placed Ride among the top three women to reach the space joining the ranks of the Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya.  Tereshkova landed into space aboard the Vostok 6 while Savitskaya’s voyage into space happened on the nineteenth day of August in the year 1982 aboard the Soyuz T –7 (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Sally Kristen Ride was a United States astronaut who became the first American woman to travel in space.  In June 1983, she and astronaut Robert L. Crippen, John M. Fabian, Frederick H. Hauck and Norman E. Thagard made a six – day flight on the space shuttle Challenger (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

(Photo of astronaut Sally Ride. ASU, “Sally Ride Science Festival,” 2008)

During the mission, Ride and Fabian launched communication satellites for the Canadian and Indonesian governments and conducted experiments involving the production of pharmaceuticals.  In addition, they tested the shuttle’s remote manipulator arm.  They used the arm to release a satellite and then retrieve it and place it in the shuttle’s cargo area (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Ride made her second shuttle flight in October 1984.  On this mission, she used the remote manipulator arm to launch a satellite designed to measure the sun’s effect on the earth’s weather (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

On January 28, 1986, Challenger exploded shortly after take – off, killing all seven members of its crew.  In February, Ride was appointed to the presidential commission that was established to investigate the accident (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Kathryn “Kathy” Sullivan

Kathryn Sullivan made history on the eleventh day of October in the year 1984 by being the first American woman to take part in an Extra – Vehicular Activity or EVA aboard the STS – 41 – G (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

(Photo of astronaut Kathryn Sullivan. NASA, “Kathryn Sullivan,” 2008)

Shannon Lucid

(Photo of astronaut Shannon Lucid. NASA, “Shannon Lucid,” 2008)

Born in China on the fourteenth day of January in the year 1943 was Shannon Lucid who would later leave her mark in the history of space travel being as the woman who carrying the world record for the most amount of time consumed in space.  As an American astronaut, Lucid logged over 223 days in space aboard flights that amounted to a total of five throughout her career.  The year was 1985 when she first took off to space via the STS – 51 G.  This space flight set up three satellites.  This maiden flight of Lucid was followed in the year 1989 via the STS – 34 this time around.  The STS – 34 set up the spacecraft named Gallileo.  The aforementioned spacecraft set off to discover the mysteries of the planet Jupiter (Windows to Universe, 2000).

Mae C. Jemison

(Photo of astronaut and doctor Mae Jemison., “Mae Jemison,” 2008)

It was on the twelfth day of September in the year 1992 when the first African – American woman made her way to explore the universe.  Mae Jemison, an astronaut and a doctor was launched into space via the Endeavor space shuttle.  She made history being the first woman of color to be able to set her sights and actually realize of venturing the unknown world beyond the Earth (NASA Quest, 2008).

As a science and mission specialist aboard the STS – 47 Spacelab J, Dr. Jemison was set for yet another space exploration.  The set mission is a collaboration of two nations specifically the U.S. and Japan.  It was a mission that lasted for about 8 days.  It was able to make 127 successful revolutions around the Earth.  The spacecraft carried with it a total of 44 resources processing and life science paraphernalia from both countries.  Jemison was tasked to be the co – investigate the bone cell research test during the voyage.  The Endeavor took off and landed back at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with the rest of its crew all safe and sound.  In her maiden flight, Dr. Jemison was able to register a total of 190 hours and 30 minutes of time spent in space (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1993).

She is dedicated in making sure that the people of the United States, regardless on sex, race and ethnic diversity are very well represented especially in the science and technology fields of study.  Dr. Jemison support all people particularly the women and those who belong to the cultural minority to chase their preferred careers at all costs (NASA Quest, 2008).

Being a promoter of science and technology that she is, Dr. Jemison is working on enhancing the reputation being projected by the scientists.  She proposes something fresh and revolutionary to the scientific field: a mixture of both the hard and social sciences.  In the scientific world that we are in today, it is necessary that the scientist is aware, alarmed and active not just within his field but also in the society where he belongs.  Moreover, it is of significant importance that the people have a tight grasp of how the sciences and the technological advancements it brings with it are able to impact the world they live in.  The Jemison Group, Inc. which she founded exists to explore, build on and execute sophisticated technologies tailor made to fit perfectly into the overall framework of a person particularly the progressing world encompassing the economic, social, cultural and political respects all together (NASA Quest, 200).

Judith Arlene Resnik

(Photo of astronaut Judy Resnik. Space Facts, “Judy Resnik,” 2008)

January 28, 1986 was one fateful date in all of space history.  It was when tragedy struck the shuttle mission’s 25th manned flight as the Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after its liftoff.  This unfortunate event caused the suspension of the space shuttle fleets scheduled prior to the accident.  It has also forced the engineers to do a major redesign of the different components of the spacecraft.  The launch of the Discovery on the 29th day of September in the year 1988 marked the successful resumption of the space shuttle program (Time Inc., 2008).

(Photo of astronaut Judith Resnik. Space Facts, “Judith Resnik,” 2008)

Judith Arlene Resnik perhaps was the most stanch and indomitable astronaut, man or woman ever to come into uniform in the history of space exploration.  The year was 1994 when doctor and astronaut Resnik took off to her maiden flight to space via the space shuttle Discovery.  As the mission specialist for the said voyage, she was tasked to work on the remote – control arm of the spaceship.  Her task also included the examinations of the solar power by means of a solar sail measuring at about 102 feet in height (Time Inc., 2008).

It was aboard the STS 41 – D that Resnik made her maiden voyage as a mission specialist.  The spacecraft was lifted off to space on the thirtieth day of August in the year 1984 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States of America.  It carried the crew on a mission that lasted for seven days.  During the mission, the OAST – 1 solar cell wing test was successfully set into motion.  STS 41 – D’s mission to space also set up three satellites namely the TELSTAR 3 – C, SBS – D and the SYNCOM IV – 2.  In addition, it activated the CFES – III project, the undergraduate crystal growth project and the cinematography tests utilizing the motion picture camera called the IMAX.   The STS 41 – D was dubbed as the “Icebusters” since they proved to be a success in eliminating the orbiter off the harmful ice particles utilizing the remote manipulator system.  The spacecraft was able to make 96 successful revolutions around the Earth before heading back on the fifth day of September in the year 1984 at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.  Throughout the course of her career, Resnik was able to register a total of 144 hours and 57 minutes of time spent in space (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2003).

Resnik’s initial mission as an astronaut and a mission specialist was aboard the orbiter Discovery.  She took off into via the spacecraft that made a total of 96 revolutions around the Earth.  It was her first outer space exploration.  The Discovery mission made it possible for Resnik to be the second U.S. woman in space following the lead of Sally Ride (The Astronuats Memorial Foundation, 2007).

At yet another chance to set off for space, luck was not anymore on Resnik’s side.  As the Challenger STS 51 –L exploded just a minute and thirteen seconds following its lift off.  Resnik met the face of death on the twenty – eight day of January in the year 1986.  All of 36 years old, she made the supreme sacrifice and while she breathed her last while in the service of the country and the shuttle program doing what she does best (The Astronauts Memorial Foundation, 2007).

Among other assignments, she was meant to aid in capturing the Halley’s comment in photo.  At the time of her death, a ring and a locket in the shape of a heart was seen by her side.  The two items was believed to be for her nephew and niece.  For a Judy Resnik, peril is just about another unfamiliar ground that must be sought and mastered.  Just like the rest of the Jews who came before her, Judith “Judy” Resnik will live in the legacy as one of those who attempted and successfully contributed to the advancement of their country.  Her life is but a significant reminder of the noble deed she dared to deliver even at her own expense (Brody, 2008).

Eileen Marie Collins

United States of America Force Lieutenant Eileen Marie Collins carries one too many firsts under her belt.  Collins was the first woman chosen to pilot a space shuttle.  Also, as if luck never left her side, Collins was able to make another history by being the first woman commander of a space shuttle (NASA Quest, 2007).

(Photo of astronaut Eileen Collins. Embassy of France in the US, “Eileen Collins,” 2008)

Hopes were on high for a space shuttle to fulfill the mission that was formerly placed under the shoulders of the fateful Columbia mission.  The tragedy put an end to the lives of all of seven of its crew aboard Columbia.  Collins was tasked to be the space shuttle commander that took off of to be the first space shuttle following the tragedy of the 2003 Columbia mission.  Collins’ voyage was thought out to signal to the potential of manned space explorations.  For the concentration of the mission was to investigate the latest protective procedures and repair measures.  The crowd cannot help but give out a breath of relief when they witnessed the successful flight back to Earth of the seven person crew aboard the shuttle on the tenth day of August in the year 2005, carrying Collins as one of them  (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2006).

Collins’ career marked several first not just for herself alone.  Her achievements left significant milestone throughout the space travel history as a whole.  The year was 1995 when she obtained the controls of the Discovery setting for herself and for the women the world over a record as the first space shuttle pilot.  The space shuttle by definition is a manned spacecraft at short operations utilized to carry crews and equipment into orbit to deliver a certain function.  The Discovery launched in the year 1995 carried with itself the task to recover an astronomy satellite.  Such satellite is a device that travels around in space and transmits lucid cosmological images back to the Earth for purposes of examination (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2006).

The historical mission of Collins the lasted for eight days of February in the year 1995 catapulted her mark in not just the space travel but in the American women’s history as well.   Her Discovery mission incorporated the maiden tryst with the Mir.  The Mir, which means “peace,” is the Soviet Union’s space station.  It was a mission as Collins put it that mark the initial baby leaps into the global space collaboration of the two nations who initially raced to discover the world beyond the Earth (National Women’s Hall of Fame, 2008).

Aboard the STS – 93 which was the first space shuttle commanded by a woman, Collins took off to space on this voyage from the twenty – third day until the twenty – seventh day of July in the year 1999.  The STS – 114 that launched into space on the twenty – sixth day of July in the year 2005 also had Collins as its commander.  Piloting the STS – 63, the first space shuttle led by a woman took her for a space exploration from the third day until the eleventh day of February in the year 1995.  She piloted back to the earth aboard the STS – 84 (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006).

Humanity has always wanted to explore the vast horizon.  It must be a dictate of human nature to investigate the mysteries of the world and beyond. Many people believe that space exploration is a must simply because we are equipped to examine what is out there.  Flight to space has begun a long time ago and it is not headed towards an end anytime soon.  For the scientists who share humanity’s thirst and fascination for space discovery continue to seek and find the answers to the inquiries that haunt the human mind about the secrets of the universe.  They find ways to know more about the planets other than the earth as well as all the other things that exists out there.  It is an attempt to conquer the place beyond the blinding horizon into the other worlds.  It is but a challenge to human excellence and expertise as they put all efforts and even their own lives at stake to give meaning to the uncertainties of the universe at large and to know if the human race is not alone in the greater scheme of the cosmos.


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