The earth has made yet another round around the sun. And what a year it was.
The highlight was of course the spaceflights of Karen Nyberg and Wang Yaping. Karen Nyberg launched on the 28th of may on her first long duration mission to the International Space Station. She spend a total amount of 166 days adn a little over 6 hours in space and landed safely back on earth on the 11th of November. She had the position of flight engineer and amongst other captured and docked the HTV-4 and the Cygnus capsule to the space station.
During this mission Wang Yaping also flew into space on the Shenzhou X mission to the Chinese space station Tiangong-1. The mission launched on 11th of June and lasted 14 days. She became the second Chinese woman to fly into space and the 57th women overall. On the 20th of June she gave a lesson from space which was followed by over 60 million Chinese students.
In 2013 NASA also introduced a new astronaut class, giving hope for the future. This was the first astronaut class which was composed of 50% males and 50% females. Jessica Meir, Christine Hammock, Nicole Mann and Anne McLain were the lucky women to be picked. along with their male counterparts Tyler Hague, Victor Glover, Andrew Morgan and Josh Cassada they will be training to become the new astronauts of NASA.
NASA was not the only one with plans to send people into space. Axe held a competition to send people into space on a Lynx suborbital spaceplane. Out of the 23 worldwide winners, 2 were female. Norwegian Tale Sundlisæter and Malaysian Pirada Techavijit have succeeded to secure their seats into space. Tale and Pirada are true space enthusiast, they both studied satellite space systems and are working in the space industry. On top of that Tale is the Norwegian national point of contact for the Space Generation Advisory Council.
As it goes with live, people have also passed away this year. Most notably astrophysicist Margherita Hack passed away on June 29th. She was the first women to head the Trieste Astronomical Observatory and a passionate science advocate. There was also the loss of Jerri Truhill, female test pilot and part of NASA’s Mercury 13 program. After Mercury 13 she spent her time flying around in a pink World war 2 fighter.
A number of the women we have seen working in space have also changed jobs. Lori Garver, previously Deputy Administrator of NASA, started work as General Manager of the Air Line Pilots Association in September. Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan was appointed Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator early in 2013. Canadian astronaut Julie Payette has become the Chief Operating Officer for the Montreal Science Centre. NASA Astronaut Pamela Melroy had worked for the FAA, but this year decided to join DARPA as Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office. Astronaut Susan Helms was nominated to become vice commander of the US Air Force Space Command, however she decided to retire, which caused the nomination to be withdrawn.
As a last highlight of 2013 we should not forget that Sally Ride received the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as the Space Foundations General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award posthumously.
Hopefully next year will be just as exciting. There are 2 women, Yelena Serova and Samantha Cristoforetti, scheduled for missions to the space station. And, if we’re lucky, Virgin Galactic or the Chinese will surprise us.