• Neilson Barnard/Getty


    Highest Number of Female Astronauts Picked

    Candidates, half of whom are women, next head to NASA training.

    Finally, 50 percent of the population may be equally represented in outer space. NASA has chosen its new class of astronaut candidates, and four of the eight are women, which marks the highest percentage of females it has ever selected. The women are Christina M. Hammock, a NOAA station chief; Nicole Aunapu Mann, a naval pilot and product-team chief; Jessica U. Meir, a professor of anesthesia at Harvard; and Anne C. McClain, a naval pilot. The select group was culled from NASA’s pool of 6,000 applicants—its largest ever. The candidates will next head to Johnson Space Center in Houston, where they’ll train to potentially be the first astronauts since the retirement of the space shuttle.

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    Celebrating 50 Years in Space

    Valentina Tereshkova, Sally Ride part of select group.

    This weekend is the 50-year anniversary of women in space. Since the Soviet Union beat the U.S. to the punch (on June 16, 1963, they sent Valentina Tereshkova into orbit), nine countries have followed, putting 57 women into space. Sally Ride was the first woman to go on a space journey for the U.S.—making an impact in a world that assumed we should only land a “man on the moon.” Some of the women we remember are the four who died in the Challenger and Columbia disasters: Christa McAulliffe, Judith Resnik, Laurel Clark, and Kalpana Chawla. With the U.S. space program suspended, no American women will be going up to space anytime soon, which is a shame considering how much these women have done over the last decades.