Space Pioneers: Who is Eileen Collins?

When it comes to making strides as an astronaut, you usually don’t hear about too many women making the rounds in this profession. However, a great deal of females has found their way in the field of astronomy and space exploration. In this article, you will learn a bit about Eileen Marie Collins , a now retired astronaut from Elmira, NY, who has accomplished a great deal in her lifetime.

Eileen Collins was born on November 19th, 1956 in Elmira, New York , growing up to become the first female shuttle pilot in America. In addition to making strides in the pilot world, she also became the first female Commander of a U.S. Spacecraft that took place on a shuttle mission called STS-93, which launched in July of 1999. The aim of the mission was to install the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Her participation in the mission was preceded the completed mission of the Shuttle Columbia.

Additional facts concerning her career in astronomy include:

·    Collins was a former military instructor and test pilot.

·    The first time Collins flew the Space Shuttle as a pilot was in 1995. She was assigned to the STS-63. The mission included a meeting between Discovery and Mir (the Russian space station).

·    Collins has been a recipient of the Harmon Trophy, where three trophies are awarded on an international basis to an aviator, female aviator (aviatrix), and aeronaut (associated with balloons and dirigibles).

·    In 1997, Collins piloted the STS-84.

·    On a mission to test out the improved safety precautions of the STS-114, NASA sent Collins as the Commander, which also included an assignment to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The launch of the flight took place on July 26th, 2005 and returned on the 9th of August of that same year. With this mission, Collins earned recognition for becoming the first astronaut to fly the space shuttle through what is known as a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver. To make a long story short, the shuttle executes a backflip that brings exposure of the heat shield to the crew of the ISS so photographs could be taken of the belly of the shuttle. This process helps to avoid any damage caused by debris that could come in contact with the shuttle as it goes into re-entry.

·    Collins decided to retire on May 1st, 2006 so that she could pursue some of her personal interests, which included becoming more active with the USAA (United Services Automobile Association) as a board member.

·    If you keep an eye out for CNN broadcasts, you may catch Eileen Collins from time to time, as she has been known to serve as a Space Shuttle analyst that covers the launchings of Shuttle, as well as their landings.

Additional details concerning Collins’ life can be found in the second part of this article, titled ”


Eileen Collins , Awards and Words of Wisdom.”