American astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who is currently orbiting earth in a Russian capsule
Space is about to have a female population explosion, with four women set to be in orbit at the same time. NASA will attempt to launch three women to the International Space Station, where they will join another female who is already circling earth in a Russian capsule.
It will be the most women in space at the one time.
The astronauts are a former schoolteacher, a chemist who once worked as an electrician and two aerospace engineers.
Americans Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will launch with Discovery’s seven-strong crew on Monday.
Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Naoko Yamazaki and Stephanie Wilson prepare for their voyage to the International Space Station
Ms Wilson, 43, said she hoped the number of women in space would increase.
‘I think that we have made a great start and have paved the way with women now being able to perform the same duties as men in spaceflight,’ she said.
Wilson became the second black woman in space in 2006.
The crew will spend 13 days in space, hauling up big spare parts, experiments and other supplies to the nearly completed space station.
Yamazaki will become the second Japanese woman to fly in space.
The women will join American Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who was launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan on Friday with two Russian male astronauts.
Dyson will arrive Sunday and stay at the space station for six months.
The 40-year-old has a doctorate in chemistry and grew up in Southern California assisting her electrician father.
She was inspired by former schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, who was killed along with six others aboard Challenger in 1986.
McAuliffe, a high school teacher, also inspired Metcalf-Lindenburger, who was 14 years old when she attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, several years after the Challenger launch accident.
‘Of course, the shuttle has its risks. But we’ve tried to make it as safe as possible, and there are so many things that we gain from it and there are so many reasons to fly it,’ Metcalf-Lindenburger said.
Metcalf-Lindenburger was a young earth-science and astronomy teacher when she stumbled onto a wanted ad for astronaut-educator in 2003.
The achievement comes 27 years after America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride, rocketed into space.
Men still outnumber women by more than two to one aboard the shuttle and station.
The head of NASA’s space operations was unaware of the imminent record until it was pointed out to him last week.
Three women have flown together in space before, but only a few times.
‘Maybe that’s a credit to the system, right? That I don’t think of it as male or female,’ space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier said.
‘I just think of it as a talented group of people going to do their job in space.’
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the world’s first space traveller in 1961, and he was followed two years later by world’s first spacewoman, fellow Soviet Valentina Tereshkova.
Via Daily Mail