15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game

These women have profoundly shaped the development of our space knowledge

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
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Katherine Louise Bouman

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: Katie Bouman/Facebook

Katherine Louise Bouman is an American computer scientist working in the field of imaging. She was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole. Bouman started with the EVT team six years ago and worked tirelessly to develop the algorithms that allowed the image of M78 to be stitched together from the telescope network. Bouman will start a new position as an assistant professor in the fall semester at Caltech.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson (born August 26, 1918) is an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. Johnson broke race and gender barriers at her time with NASA. Her story was used for the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

Valentina Tereshkova

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: RIA Novosti archive, image #612748 / Alexander Mokletsov / Wikimedia Commons

The first woman in space was a Soviet cosmonaut with very little space or engineering experience. Valentina Tereshkova launched with the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963. Prior to becoming a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory worker and an amateur skydiver. She is the only women to have completed a solo space mission, orbiting the earth 48 times.

Sally Kristen Ride

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Sally Kristen Ride was an American astronaut, physicist, and engineer. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. She was the third woman in space after two Russian cosmonauts. Following her career as an astronaut Ride became a professor of physics at leading Californian universities. She served as a member of the investigative committees for both the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.

Mary Winston Jackson

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA

Mary Winston Jackson (April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) was the first African American mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which in 1958 was succeeded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). After 34 years with the agency she achieved the highest status for an engineer possible. Jackson took a demotion to dedicate the final years of her career promoting the employment and advancement of both women and people of color to the agency.

Roberta Bondar

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: JSC | NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Roberta Bondar was the first Canadian woman in space and the second Canadian. She flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in January 1992. After her career as an astronaut, Bondar worked with NASA researching the effects of space on the human body. She was also a passionate landscape photographer and combined her love of the various disciplines of science to also host various TV science shows.

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Chiaki Mukai

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

In 1985, Chiaki Mukai was selected as one of three Japanese Payload Specialist candidates for the First Material Processing Test (Spacelab-J) that flew aboard STS-47 in 1992. She is the first Japanese woman to fly in space and the first Japanese citizen to have two spaceflights. In addition to being an astronaut, Mukai is also a physician and has authored approximately sixty peer-reviewed scientific publications since 1979.

Liu Yang

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: Manfred Werner (Tsui) / Wikimedia Commons

Liu Yang (born October 6, 1978) is a Chinese pilot and astronaut who served as a crew member on the space mission Shenzhou 9. On June 16, 2012, Liu became the first Chinese woman in space.

Dorothy Vaughan

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: Beverly Golemba / Wikimedia Commons

Mathematician Dorothy Vaughan worked as a human computer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later transitioned into NASA. She became NACA’s first black supervisor and helped the department transition to computers in the early 1960’s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of FORTRAN. She said working for Langley during the space felt like being on "the cutting edge of something very exciting".

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Kitty Joyner

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NACA / Wikimedia Commons

Kitty Joyner was not only the first woman to graduate from the University of Virginia’s engineering program, but she also went on to become NASA’s first woman engineer. Getting her first job with the agency in 1939. She worked for NASA until her retirement in 1971.

Nancy Roman

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: HubbleESA / Flickr

The “Mother of Hubble” Nancy Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA and earned her nickname for her involvement in the planning and setting up of the Hubble Telescope program structure. In addition to orgnizing the committee that set out the plans for the Hubble Roman was also tasked with convincing Congress to fund the prohject. Without her hard work so much of what we know about space would not have been possible.

Pearl Young

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NACA / Wikimedia Commons

In an age when most of NACA’s female employees were confined to secretarial or administrative roles, Pearl Young was the first female technical employee, appointed as the Chief Technical Editor at the Langley Instrument Research Laboratory. One of her lasting legacies is the way NASA shares its information and research with the public.

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Svetlana Savistkaya

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: Нет данных / Wikimedia Commons

In 1984, Svetlana Savistkaya of Moscow took one giant leap for women by becoming the first female to perform a space walk, cutting and welding metals for almost four hours outside the Salyut 7 space station. She was the second woman to go to space. She developed her love for flying from parachuting, by her 17th birthday Savistkaya already had more then 450 jumps under her belt. Her first flight was in 1982 and her second was in 1984.

Jeanette Scissum

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA/ MSFC

Jeanette Scissum was the first African-American mathematician to be employed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, after joining as an entry level-mathematician in 1964. She worked at the centre as a computer systems analyst responsible for analyzing and directing NASA management information and technical support systems. She fought for equality at NASA during her career even when her own job was threatened.

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Ellen Ochoa

15 Women Who Changed the Space Exploration Game
Source: NASA on The Commons / Flickr

Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to travel into space as part of a nine-day mission on board the shuttle Discovery in 1993. The purpose of the mission was to study the Earth's ozone layer. In 2013 Ochoa became the first Hispanic and second female director of NASA's Johnson Space Center.

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