Fully half of the 8 person team of astronauts NASA selected for the 2013 astronaut class are women, the highest percentage of female astronauts in a class in the history of US space travel. And lest you worry about affirmative action playing a role, take a look at the qualifications of the female astronauts:
Christina Hammock, 34. Hammock holds bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics, a master’s degree in electrical engineering, and she worked in x-ray detection at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She completed three scientific expeditions to Greenland and Antarctica. Now she is the Station Chief in American Samoa for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35. A military test pilot with combat experience, Mann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. The Marine Corps major now is serving as an Integrated Product Team Leader at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Md. She also is a scuba diver who was captain of the Naval Academy’s women’s soccer team.
Anne McClain, 34. An Army helicopter pilot, McClain earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s in public health, and a master’s degree in international security. She was a member of the U.S. National Women’s Rugby Team, flew combat missions and is a recent graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
Jessica Meir, 35. A civilian scientist, Meir holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in international space studies and a doctorate in marine biology. An aquanaut and under-ice diver, Meir has done fieldwork in Antarctica. Currently, Meir is Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.
Combat pilots. Scientists. Engineers. Under-ice divers. Hot damn, these are some amazing astronauts.
The path to gender equality in the space program has gained a few miles since Hillary Clinton was told girls couldn’t be astronauts in 1960. In 1983, Sally Ride became the first US woman in space and female astronauts have been flying into space ever since. Seeing a 50/50 space team in 2013 seems right and equal to me.
So we can all tell our daughters to crack the books in their science classes because the space program is waiting for them!
Photo credit: Nasa.gov
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