An Astronaut’s Tips For Living in Confined Spaces

For Women’s History Month, NASA and the International Space Station celebrate the women who conduct science aboard the orbiting lab. As of March 2019, 63 women have flown in space, including cosmonauts, astronauts, payload specialists, and space station participants. The first woman in space was Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova who flew on Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, flew aboard the Space Shuttle STS-7 in June of 1983.

If conducted as planned, the upcoming March 29 spacewalk with Anne McClain and Christina Koch would be the first all-female spacewalk. Women have participated in science on the space station since 2001; here are the most recent and some highlights from their scientific work:

Christina Koch, Expedition 59

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Christina Koch (pictured on the right) becomes the most recent woman in space, launching to the space station in mid-March to take part in some 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations. Koch served as station chief of the American Samoa Observatory and has contributed to the development of instruments used to study radiation particles for the Juno mission and the Van Allen Probe.

Anne McClain, Expedition 57/58, 59

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Flight Engineer Anne McClain collects samples for Marrow, a long-term investigation into the negative effects of microgravity on the bone marrow and blood cells it produces. The investigation may lead to development of strategies to help prevent these effects in future space explorers, as well as people on Earth who experience prolonged bed rest. McClain holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as an Army Aviator, with more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft.

Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, Expedition 56/57

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Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). This research may facilitate a cost-effective drug testing method and help develop safer and more effective vascular-targeted treatments. As a NASA Flight Surgeon, Auñón-Chancellor spent more than nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for International Space Station crew members. 

Peggy Whitson, Expeditions 5, 16, 50, 51/52

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson holds numerous spaceflight records, including the U.S. record for cumulative time in space – 665 days – and the longest time for a woman in space during a single mission, 289 days. She has tied the record for the most spacewalks for any U.S. astronaut and holds the record for the most spacewalk time for female space travelers. She also served as the first science officer aboard the space station and the first woman to be station commander on two different missions. During her time on Earth, she also is the only woman to serve as chief of the astronaut office. Here she works on the Genes in Space-3 experiment, which completed the first-ever sample-to-sequence process entirely aboard the International Space Station. This innovation makes it possible to identify microbes in real time without having to send samples back to Earth, a revolutionary step for microbiology and space exploration.  

Kate Rubins, Expedition 48/49

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The Heart Cells investigation studies the human heart, specifically how heart muscle tissue contracts, grows and changes its gene expression in microgravity and how those changes vary between subjects. In this image, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins conducts experiment operations in the U.S. National Laboratory. Rubins also successfully sequenced DNA in microgravity for the first time as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment.

Samantha Cristoforetti, Expedition 42/43

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The first Italian woman in space, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti conducts the SPHERES-Vertigo investigation in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). The investigation uses free-flying satellites to demonstrate and test technologies for visual inspection and navigation in a complex environment.

Elena Serova, Expedition 41/42

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Cosmonaut Elena Serova, the first Russian woman to visit the space station, works with the bioscience experiment ASEPTIC in the Russian Glavboks (Glovebox). The investigation assessed the reliability and efficiency of methods and equipment for assuring aseptic or sterile conditions for biological investigations performed on the space station. 

Karen Nyberg, Expedition 36/37

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NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg sets up the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) fluorescence microscope in the space station’s Kibo laboratory. The MSPR has two workspaces and a table used for a wide variety of microgravity science investigations and educational activities.

Sunita Williams, Expeditions 32/33, 14/15

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This spacewalk by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide, reflected in Williams’ helmet visor, lasted six hours and 28 minutes. They completed installation of a main bus switching unit (MBSU) and installed a camera on the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2. Williams participated in seven spacewalks and was the second woman ever to be commander of the space station. She also is the only person ever to have run a marathon while in space. She flew in both the space shuttle and Soyuz, and her next assignment is to fly a new spacecraft: the Boeing CST-100 Starliner during its first operational mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. 

Cady Coleman, Expeditions 26/27

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Working on the Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE), NASA astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman performs a Corner Flow 2 (ICF-2) test. CFE observes the flow of fluid in microgravity, in particular capillary or wicking behavior. As a participant in physiological and equipment studies for the Armstrong Aeromedical Laboratory, she set several endurance and tolerance records. Coleman logged more than 4,330 total hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the space station.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Expedition 24

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A system to purify water for use in intravenous administration of saline would make it possible to better treat ill or injured crew members on future long-duration space missions. The IVGEN investigation demonstrates hardware to provide that capability. Tracy Caldwell Dyson sets up the experiment hardware in the station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). As noted above, she and Shannon Walker were part of the first space station crew with more than one woman. 

Shannon Walker, Expedition 24/25

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Astronaut Shannon Walker flew on Expedition 24/25, a long-duration mission that lasted 163 days. Here she works at the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF), an incubator with an artificial gravity generator used in various life science experiments, such as cultivating cells and plants on the space station.  She began working in the space station program in the area of robotics integration, worked on avionics integration and on-orbit integrated problem-solving for the space station in Russia, and served as deputy and then acting manager of the On-Orbit Engineering Office at NASA prior to selection as an astronaut candidate.

Stephanie Wilson, STS-120, STS-121, STS-131

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Astronaut Stephanie Wilson unpacks a Microgravity Experiment Research Locker Incubator II (MERLIN) in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Part of the Cold Stowage Fleet of hardware, MERLIN provides a thermally controlled environment for scientific experiments and cold stowage for transporting samples to and from the space station. Currently serving as branch chief for crew mission support in the Astronaut Office, Wilson logged more than 42 days in space on three missions on the space shuttle, part of the Space Transportation System (STS). 

Other notable firsts:

Roscosmos cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to participate in an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk, on July 25, 1984

• NASA astronaut Susan Helms, the first female crew member aboard the space station, a member of Expedition 2 from March to August 2001

• NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first female ISS Commander, April 2008, during a six-month tour of duty on Expedition 16

• The most women in space at one time (four) happened in 2010, when space shuttle Discovery visited the space station for the STS-131 mission. Discovery’s crew of seven included NASA astronauts Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. The space station crew of six included NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

• Susan Helms shares the record for longest single spacewalk, totaling 8 hours 56 minutes with fellow NASA astronaut Jim Voss. 

Expedition 24 marked the first with two women, NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, assigned to a space station mission from April to September, 2010

• The 2013 astronaut class is the first with equal numbers of women and men. 

• NASA astronaut Anne McClain became the first woman to live aboard the space station as part of two different crews with other women: Serena Auñón-Chancellor in December 2018 and currently in orbit with Christina Koch.

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Published at Tue, 24 Mar 2020 21:08:42 +0000

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