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Physics: Women in NASA

Subject Research Guide -- Physics (General)

History of Women in Space

Women in Space (statistics valid as of June 2012)

General Facts

55 different women total including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and foreign nationals have flown in space.

6 different female cosmonauts have flown on the Soviet/Russian program*

1 female astronaut or taikonaut has flown in the Chinese program

48 different women have flown with NASA*

*Cosmonaut Yelena Kondakova has flown on both Soyuz TM-17 and on STS-84
*NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson has flown on Both Soyuz TMA-18 and STS-118
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First woman in space

Valentina Tereshkova - Vostok 6. June 16, 1963
 

First U.S. woman in space

Sally Ride - STS-7. June 18-24, 1983

(She was the third woman in space overall after Valentina Tereshkova, above, and Svetlana Savitskaya, who flew on Soyuz T-7 August 19, 1982)
 

First woman Space Shuttle commander

Eileen Collins - STS-93. July 23-27, 1999. She commanded for a second time on STS-114 July 26, 2005

Pamela Melroy was the second woman commander on STS-120 October 23-November 7, 2007
 

First woman Space Station Expedition crew member

Susan Helms - Expedition 2. March 2001 - August 2001
 

First woman to command the International Space Station (ISS)

Peggy Whitson - Whitson completed a six month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station as the ISS Commander for Expedition 16 in April 2008.
 

First woman to participate in an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA)

Svetlana Savitskaya - Soyuz T-12. July 17, 1984
 

First U.S. woman to participate in an EVA

Kathryn (Kathy) Sullivan - STS 41-G. October 11, 1984
 

Women Space Shuttle pilots

Eileen Collins - was first woman pilot on STS-63 February 3-11, 1995. She returned as pilot on STS-84
Susan Still - STS-83, STS-94
Pamela Ann Melroy - STS 92, STS-112


 Visit Women@NASA site to learn about the significant and varied roles women have played in the agency's history.

See also Women at NASA.

NASA Women of STEM

NASA Women of STEM is a wonderful site dedicated to celebrating women who have made contributions to NASA in the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Readers will find a number of fascinating profiles, interviews, and articles about women at NASA who are engaged in a wide range of STEM fields, from teaching children about science to engineering rockets.