In more than five decades of space voyages, humans have orbited the Earth, built the International Space Station, and even set foot on the moon. When you think of an astronaut, you might picture Neil Armstrong, who famously took “one small step for man” back in 1969. But there are countless women, too, who have heroically explored the unknown up above.
In honor of Moon Day on July 20th — the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon — we’d like to recognize some of the stellar women in the space industry that might not have been covered by the news or taught in school.
Without further ado, here are 5 cosmically famous females that have made waves in space.
Mae Jemison has an impressive resume: she received a Chemical Engineering degree from Stanford and a Doctorate from Cornell — not to mention her years of service spent in the Peace Corps. But her crowning achievement happened when she boarded the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992 becoming the first Black American woman to travel to space.
Karen L. Nyberg
Karen Nyberg, Ph.D worked for years as a top-level mechanical engineer at the Johnson Space Center before being selected as an astronaut candidate at the turn of the century. Since then, she’s traveled to space twice and accumulated 180 days there. Her real claim to fame, though, is her viral 2013 video “How to Wash Your Hair in Space.”
Dr. Chiaki Mukai is both an astronaut and a board-certified heart surgeon! Serving as a Payload Specialist on a shuttle mission in July 1994, she became the first Japanese woman to travel to space. After more than 14 days and 6 million miles in orbit, Dr. Mukai also holds the record for the longest flight by a female astronaut.
With advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering as well as Space Systems, Joan Higginbotham has participated in more than 50 launches. Aside from her work as an astronaut with NASA, she’s also a competitive bodybuilder!
Bonnie J. Dunbar
Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar is a 5-flight NASA veteran with more than 50 days logged in space. After her career as an astronaut, she served in several executive positions at NASA and remains an internationally renowned advocate for STEM.
Since the dawn of space voyages in 1961, countless women have made strides in the space industry.
Using their ambition and expertise, these brave pioneers have paved the way for future women to continue making even more waves in space.
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