March 8th is International Women’s Day and also the anticipated premiere of “Captain Marvel.” The film is the first female-led superhero movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. The character is an Air Force pilot who later gains superpowers, including flight.
While Carol Danvers is fictional, real-life women have been paving the way for female pilots and astronauts for years. The first all-female spacewalk in history, led by Anne McClain and Christina Koch, is planned for March 2019. Leading up to this historic moment, the women listed below have been breaking monumental records in flight for years.
International Women’s Day:
10 Inspiring Female Astronauts & Pilots
NASA’s Most Experienced Female Astronaut
Peggy Whitson retired from NASA in 2018, but has left her mark as the agency’s most experienced female astronaut to date. Her first space mission was in 2002, and on her second mission in 2007, Whitson was the first female commander of the International Space Station. In 2017, she broke the record for most total days spent in space by any NASA astronaut and the record for the longest single space flight by a woman.
Aerospace Engineer & Host of “Xploration Outer Space”
While Emily Calandrelli has never been to space, she is passionate about space exploration. Calandrelli is the host of Fox’s “Xploration Outer Space”, where she works to explain science related topics in an easy and entertaining way. She has also appeared on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World.” She hopes to make science more accessible no matter a person’s educational background and encourages women to pursue STEM careers.
NASA Astronaut & Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel
Like Carol Danvers, Yvonne Cagle was a member of the United States Air Force where she retired with the rank of Colonel. In the Air Force, she served as a Senior Flight Surgeon. She went on to work as a medical doctor at NASA’s Occupational Health Clinic and then joined NASA’s Astronaut Class of 1996. In 2014, Fordham University awarded her an honorary Ph.D. for her contributions to science. As of 2018, Cagle is a “NASA Management Astronaut.”
NASA Astronaut, Holds Record for Longest Space Walk for a Woman
Sunita Williams holds the record for the most space walk time by a woman at 50 hours and 40 minutes. Before joining NASA, Williams was a member of the United States Navy. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and a commander on Expedition 33. NASA announced her as one of the first astronauts for U.S. Commercial spaceflights, and in 2018 she was assigned to the first mission flight, CTS-1.
Col. Nicole Malachowski is the first female fighter pilot for the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron. In the United States Air Force, Malachowski flew combat missions in Kosovo and Iraq. She was a White House Fellow and served for both President Bush and President Obama. She retired from the Air Force after 21 years of service when she developed a neurological tick-borne illness and had to learn how to walk and talk again.
Rocket Scientist, Technologist & STEM Educator
Aprille Ericsson is an Aerospace Engineer and is the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Ericsson has won several awards including the 2016 Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers. She was the first person of color to win that award. A majority of her career has been at the NASA Goddard School of Flight Center helping the agency understanding the sun-earth connection and space science.
Founder of the MARS Generation & STEAM Advocate
Abigail Harrison, also known as “Astronaut Abby”, is the founder of The Mars Generation, a nonprofit that has been educating people about space exploration and STEM since 2015. Harrison has said she aims to be the first human to set foot on Mars and is an aspiring astronaut. As a student, she works as an intern in the Mars Lab of Dr. Andrew Schuerger, who studies the possibility of life on Mars.
Award-Winning Rocket Scientist, Science Entertainer & Educator
Olympia LePoint has been named a “Modern Day Hidden Figure” by People Magazine and is also considered the “New Neil DeGrasse Tyson for TV Presenting on Science.” From 1998-2007, she helped design and build space rockets which were launched for 28 NASA Space Shuttle missions. LePoint is known for her TED Talk appearances and interviews with CBS News and “Impact Theory.”
First African-American Female U.S. Combat Pilot & Author
Vernice Armour is known as the country’s first African-American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces. She achieved this feat in a record-breaking three years after moving up from a position as a beat cop. She is the author of the book “Zero to Breakthrough“, for which she created a seven-step plan to achieve success. Known for her persevering mindset, she has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Oprah Winfrey, and more.
Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger was selected as an Astronaut Candidate by NASA in May 2004. During her tenure with NASA, she was assigned to an International Space Station resupply crew and also served as a robotic arm operator, flight engineer, Intra-vehicular crew member, and transfer crew member. She retired from NASA in June 2014. She is a member of the Houston-based rock band Max Q which is made up entirely of astronauts.
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