Female Astronauts on the Rise at NASA
This article is published in collaboration with Statista
by Katharina Buchholz
NASA was an exclusively male workplace for a long time, but that is changing. The first all-female spacewalk at the International Space Station was carried out in 2019 and many other milestones have already been accomplished by female astronauts. But there has yet to be a first woman on the moon (or on Mars), and since NASA is planning to return astronauts to the moon soon, some female members who graduated as part of the newest 2017 and 2021 cohorts might just be the ones to achieve those firsts.
The first women to graduate from NASA astronaut class were Sally Ride, Anna Fisher, Judith Resnik, Kathryn Sullivan, Margaret Rhea and Shannon Lucid, who entered the program in 1978. According to NASA and Collect Space, the number of women admitted to the program has risen, in total and as a share of aspiring astronauts. Ride became the first American woman in space, after cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya. Fisher became the first mother to fly in space. Resnik tragically died in the 1986 Challenger explosion.
While the latest 2021 cohort has a 42/58 percent (five women, seven men) split in favor of men, 2013 saw the first, albeit small, gender-equal astronaut cohort, with four men and four women starting and later graduating NASA astronaut training.
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