Northrop Grumman celebrates women in aerospace

Northrop Grumman celebrates women in aerospace

 February 12, 2020

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Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman, is using its Now. content platform to celebrate women who have made a mark on the aerospace sector.

In a special article, the prime employer for women profiles three courageous females who left indelible impressions on aerospace history — not just for women, but for everyone.

Sally Ride: first U.S. woman in space (pictured)

As a mission specialist for STS-7 in 1983, NASA’s seventh shuttle trip, Sally Ride (pictured) operated the shuttle’s robotic arm to deploy and retrieve communication satellites. A little more than a year later, Sally went into space for a second mission, STS-41-G. Again, she used the spacecraft’s robotic arm, this time to remove ice from the shuttle’s exterior and to readjust a radar antenna.

Though she had an advanced degree in astrophysics and was a trained astronaut, talking with the press proved to be a difficult challenge for Sally. Journalists asked her questions that focused more on her gender and less on her skills. “‘Everybody wanted to know what kind of makeup I was taking up,'” she said in an interview for PBS. Years later, Sally said she felt that the extra attention she received made her all the more determined to do things right.

Mae Carol Jemison: first African-American woman in space

Mae Carol Jemison flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, mission STS-47, and in doing so became the first African-American woman in space.

Mae's journey to space took an unconventional route. She obtained an M.D. degree from Cornell Medical College and initially worked as a general practitioner. 

After seeing Sally Ride go into space, Mae said she felt that NASA had become open to accepting women into the space program. “‘I picked up the phone. I called down to Johnson Space Center. I said, ‘I would like an application to be an astronaut.’ They didn’t laugh,'” she said in the NOVA interview.

In 1987, Jemison became the first African-American woman to be admitted into the NASA astronaut training program, earning the title of mission specialist. Onboard, she conducted scientific experiments related to bone cell research, weightlessness, fertility, motion sickness and others.

Eileen Collins: first woman Space Shuttle Commander

Eileen Collins accomplished two aerospace firsts: she became the first female space shuttle pilot and the first female shuttle commander.

When Eileen was a little girl, she wanted to be a pilot. She said she was inspired by astronauts, including John Glenn and Alan Shepherd, who flew in Project Mercury — the U.S.’s first human spaceflight program. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Syracuse University, Eileen enrolled in a pilot training course at Oklahoma’s Vance Air Force Base. It was one of the first classes at the base to include women. She eventually became a test pilot and in 1990 was selected as a NASA astronaut.

As commander of STS-93, which launched in 1999, Eileen led a four-day mission to deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, an instrument designed to detect X-ray emission from hot regions of the universe. In 2005, Collins served as commander for a second shuttle mission, STS-114.

Read the full article featuring female astronauts over at Now. powered by Northrop Grumman. 

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