Lt Col Eileen Collins

March 12, 2012 by staff 

Lt Col Eileen Collins, Eileen Marie Collins (b. November 19, 1956 in Elmira, New York) is a retired American astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Col. Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006 to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA.

Collins was selected to be an astronaut in 1992 and first flew the Space Shuttle as pilot in 1995 aboard STS-63, which involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. In recognition of her achievement as the first female Shuttle Pilot, she received the Harmon Trophy. She was also the pilot for STS-84 in 1997.

Mission Commander Collins and STS-114 crew on their way to launch pad.
Collins was also the first female commander of a U.S. Spacecraft with Shuttle mission STS-93, launched in July 1999, which deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Collins commanded STS-114, NASA’s “return to flight” mission to test safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The flight was launched on July 26, 2005, and returned on August 9, 2005. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the space shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver. This was necessary so astronauts aboard the ISS could take photographs of the shuttle’s belly, to ensure there was no threat from debris-related damage to the shuttle upon reentry.

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