Four women in space

Four women in space
With the blast-off of Discovery on 5 April, the record of the number of women in space is going to be beaten!

The crews from the space shuttle Discovery (STS-131, left) and the ISS Expedition 23 (right).
Credit: NASA

The space shuttle Discovery, which is shortly to blast off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to the ISS, is leaving with the Italian MPLM cargo module, dubbed Leonardo and built by the European manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, in its payload bay. This module contains the scientific experiments that are to be installed in the International Space Station’s laboratories; this explains why NASA has nicknamed the mission The Experiment Express.

Four women in space: a first
Discovery’s crew is composed of 6 Americans and the Japanese, Naoko Yamazaki. But, Naoko is not going to be the only woman on board as she is to be accompanied by Americans Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson. Only two other space shuttle missions have included 3 women in their crews: STS-40 in 1991 and STS-96 in 1999.
However, it should not be forgotten that American Tracy Caldwell-Dyson is a member of Expedition 23 aboard the ISS. Consequently, when Discovery reaches Earth orbit, there will be a total of 4 women in space, a record! Once the space shuttle is docked with the Station, there is no doubt that a souvenir photograph, uniting the 3 American women with their Japanese colleague, will be taken in order to immortalise this space first.

Four women are to be together in space for the very first time. Left to right: Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Naoko Yamazaki and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson.
Credit: NASA

Another first is to take place during this flight: two astronauts from the Land of the Rising Sun will be in space at the same time, this has never happened before. This obviously involves Naoko Yamazaki (STS-131) and Soichi Noguchi (ISS – Expedition 23).
And finally, Discovery will be carrying out its last but one mission as for its next flight the oldest of the space shuttles is to have the honour of making the last flight of one of NASA’s space shuttles with STS-133, scheduled for September later this year.

Another first linked to Discovery’s next flight: two Japanese astronauts, Naoko Yamazaki and Soichi Noguchi, simultaneously in orbit.
Credit: NASA

Come and join us here on the Enjoy Space website on Monday 5 April at noon, French time (10.00 UT). We shall be broadcasting live video of Discovery’s blast-off with live French commentary.

Published on 2 April 2010