Women Astronauts

Women were not part of the astronaut program when it first began -- there was originally a requirement that astronauts be military test pilots, and no women had such experience. But after one attempt ending in 1960 to include women, women were finally admitted to the program. Here is an image gallery of some of the notable women astronauts from NASA history.

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01
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Jerrie Cobb

Jerrie Cobb in 1960, testing the Gimbal Rig, used to train astronauts
Courtesy NASA

Jerrie Cobb was the first woman to pass the entry tests of the Mercury Astronaut Program, but the rules of NASA shut Cobb and other women out of fully qualifying.

In this photograph, Jerrie Cobb is testing the Gimbal Rig in the Altitude Wind Tunnel in 1960.

02
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Jerrie Cobb

Jerrie Cobb with a Mercury space capsule
Courtesy NASA

Jerrie Cobb passed the training tests for astronauts in the top 5% of all candidates (male and female), but NASA policy keeping women out didn't change.

03
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First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT)

First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT): 7 of Mercury 13 visit Kennedy Space Center, 1995
Courtesy NASA

Part of a group of 13 women who trained to become astronauts in the early 1960s, seven visit Kennedy Space Center in 1995, hosted by Eileen Collins.

In this picture: Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Ratley, Myrtle Cagle, and Bernice Steadman. FLAT finalists were Jerrie Cobb, Wally Funk, Irene Leverton, Myrtle "K" Cagle, Janey Hart, Gene Nora Stumbough (Jessen), Jerri Sloan (Truhill), Rhea Hurrle (Woltman), Sarah Gorelick (Ratley), Bernice "B" Trimble Steadman, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, and Jean Hixson.

04
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Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline Cochran sworn in as NASA consultant by NASA administrator James E. Webb, 1961
Courtesy NASA

First woman pilot to break the sound barrier, Jacqueline Cochran became a NASA consultant in 1961. Shown with administrator James E. Webb.

05
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Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols recruited astronaut candidates
Courtesy NASA

Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original Star Trek series, recruited astronaut candidates for NASA from the late 1970s to the late 1980s.

Among the astronauts who were recruited with the help of Nichelle Nichols were Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space, and Judith A. Resnik, another of the first woman astronauts, as well as African American male astronauts Guion Bluford and Ronald McNair, the first two African American astronauts.

06
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First Female Astronaut Candidates

Shannon Lucid, Margaret Rhea Seddon, Kathryn Sullivan, Judith Resnik, Anna Fisher, Sally Ride
Courtesy NASA

The first six women completed astronaut training with NASA in August 1979

Left to right: Shannon Lucid, Margaret Rhea Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnik, Anna L. Fisher, and Sally K. Ride.

07
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First Six American Women Astronauts

Rhea Seddon, Kathryn Sullivan, Judith Resnick, Sally Ride, Anna Fisher, Shannon Lucid
Courtesy NASA

The first six American women astronauts during training, 1980.

Left to right: Margaret Rhea Seddon, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Judith A. Resnik, Sally K. Ride, Anna L. Fisher, Shannon W. Lucid.

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First Women Astronauts

Sally K. Ride, Judith A. Resnik, Anna L. Fisher, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Rhea Seddon
Courtesy NASA

Some of the first women astronaut candidates in training in Florida, 1978.

Left to right: Sally Ride, Judith A. Resnik, Anna L. Fisher, Kathryn D. Sullivan, Margaret Rhea Seddon.

09
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Sally Ride

NASA official portrait of female astronaut Sally Ride.
Courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. This 1984 portrait is the official NASA portrait of Sally Ride.

10
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Kathryn Sullivan

Kathryn Sullivan
Courtesy NASA

Kathryn Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space, and served on three shuttle missions.

11
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Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride

Official Photo of 41-G Crew Including Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride
Courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)

The replica of a gold astronaut pin near McBride signifies unity.

Official photo of the 41-G crew. They are (bottom row, left to right) Astronauts Jon A. McBride, pilot; and Sally K. Ride, Kathryn D. Sullivan and David C. Leestma, all mission specialists. Top row from left to right are Paul D. Scully-Power, payload specialist; Robert L. Crippen, crew commander; and Marc Garneau, Canadian payload specialist.

12
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Kathryn Sullivan and Sally Ride

Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan show sleep restraint on space shuttle.
Courtesy NASA Headquarters - GReatest Images of NASA (NASA-HQ-GRIN)

Astronauts Kathryn D. Sullivan, left, and Sally K. Ride display a "bag of worms."

Astronauts Kathryn D. Sullivan, left, and Sally K. Ride display a "bag of worms." The "bag" is a sleep restraint and the majority of the "worms" are springs and clips used with the sleep restraint in its normal application. Clamps, a bungee cord and velcro strips are other recognizable items in the "bag."

13
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Judith Resnik

Judith Resnik
Courtesy NASA

Judith Resnik, part of the first class of women astronauts at NASA, died in the Challenger explosion, 1986.

14
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Teachers in Space

Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan, primary and back-up astronauts for NASA's Teachers in Space
Courtesy NASA

The Teacher in the Space program, with Christa McAuliffe, selected for flight STS-51L and Barbara Morgan as back-up, ended when the Challenger orbiter exploded on January 28, 1986, and the crew was lost.

15
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Christa McAuliffe

Christa McAuliffe
Courtesy NASA

Teacher Christa McAuliffe trained for zero gravity in a NASA aircraft in 1986, preparing for the ill-fated space shuttle mission STS-51L aboard the Challenger.

16
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Anna L. Fisher, M.D.

Anna L. Fisher, NASA Astronaut
Courtesy NASA

Anna Fisher was selected by NASA in January 1978. She was a mission specialist on STS-51A. After a family leave from 1989 - 1996, she returned to work at NASA's Astronaut Office, serving in a variety of positions including Chief of the Space Station Branch of the Astronaut Office. As of 2008, she was serving in the Shuttle Branch.

17
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Margaret Rhea Seddon

Margaret Rhea Seddon
Courtesy NASA

Part of the first class of American women astronauts, Dr. Seddon was part of NASA's astronaut program from 1978 to 1997.

18
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Shannon Lucid

Shannon Lucid
Courtesy NASA

Shannon Lucid, Ph.D., was part of the first class of women astronauts, selected in 1978.

Lucid served as part of the crew of the 1985 STS-51G, 1989 STS-34, 1991 STS-43, and 1993 STS-58 missions. She served on the Russian Mir space station from March to September 1996, setting an American record for single mission space flight endurance.

19
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Shannon Lucid

Shannon Lucid on treadmill aboard Russian space station Mir, 1996.
Courtesy NASA

Astronaut Shannon Lucid aboard the Russian Space station Mir exercises on a treadmill, 1996.

20
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Shannon Lucid and Rhea Seddon

STS-58 Crew Portrait, 1993.
Courtesy NASA

Two women, Shannon Lucid and Rhea Seddon, were among the crew for mission STS-58.

Left to right (front) are David A. Wolf, and Shannon W. Lucid, both mission specialists; Rhea Seddon, payload commander; and Richard A. Searfoss, pilot. Left to right (rear) are John E. Blaha, mission commander; William S. McArthur Jr., mission specialist; and payload specialist Martin J. Fettman, DVM.

21
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Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison
Courtesy NASA

Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to fly in space. She was part of NASA's astronaut program from 1987 to 1993.

22
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N. Jan Davis

N. Jan Davis
Courtesy NASA

N. Jan Davis was a NASA astronaut from 1987 to 2005.

23
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N. Jan Davis and Mae C. Jemison

Female astronauts N. Jan Davis and Mae C. Jemison aboard the space shuttle, STS-47, 1992.
Courtesy NASA

Aboard the science module of the space shuttle, Dr. N. Jan Davis and Dr. Mae C. Jemison prepare to deploy the lower body negative pressure apparatus.

24
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Roberta Lynn Bondar

Roberta Bondar, Canadian woman astronaut
Courtesy NASA

Part of Canada's astronaut program from 1983 to 1992, researcher Roberta Lynn Bondar flew on mission STS-42, 1992, on the space shuttle Discovery.

25
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Eileen Collins

Eileen Collins, commander of STS-93 space shuttle mission, in 1998
Courtesy NASA

Eileen M. Collins, STS-93 commander, was the first woman to command a space shuttle mission.

26
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Eileen Collins

Eileen Collins, commander of space shuttle Columbia mission STS-93
Courtesy NASA

Eileen Collins was the first woman to command a shuttle crew.

This image shows Commander Eileen Collins at the Commander's station on the flight deck of the space shuttle Columbia, STS-93.

27
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Eileen Collins and Cady Coleman

STS-93 crew Michel Tognini, Catherine Cady Coleman, Jeffrey Ashby, Eileen Collins, Stephen Hawley
Courtesy NASA

STS-93 crew during training, 1998, with Commander Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle crew.

Left to right: Mission Specialist Michel Tognini, Mission Specialist Catherine "Cady" Coleman, Pilot Jeffrey Ashby, Commander Eileen Collins and Mission Specialist Stephen Hawley.

28
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Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa
Courtesy NASA

Ellen Ochoa, selected as an astronaut candidate in 1990, flew on missions in 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2002.

As of 2008, Ellen Ochoa was serving as Deputy Director of the Johnson Space Center.

29
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Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa trains for emergency egress from a space shuttle, 1992.
Courtesy NASA

Ellen Ochoa trains for emergency egress from a space shuttle, 1992.

30
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Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla
Courtesy NASA

Kalpana Chawla, born in India, died February 1, 2003, during reentry of the space shuttle Columbia. She had previously served on STS-87 Columbia in 1997.

31
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Laurel Clark, M.D.

Laurel Clark
Courtesy NASA

Laurel Clark, selected by NASA in 1996, died near the end of her first space flight, aboard STS-107 Columbia in February 2003.

32
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Susan Helms

Susan Helms
Courtesy NASA

An astronaut from 1991 to 2002, Susan Helms returned to the US Air Force. She was part of the International Space Station crew from March to August 2001.

33
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Marjorie Townsend, NASA Pioneer

Marjorie Townsend with SAS-1 X-ray Explorer Satellite
Courtesy NASA

Marjorie Townsend is included here as an example of the many talented women who served in roles other than an astronaut, supporting the NASA space program.

The first woman to graduate in engineering from George Washington University, Marjorie Townsend joined NASA in 1959.