NASA press photo
November 19, 1956 |
Elmira, New York
|Eileen Marie Collins|
|Rank||Colonel, USAF (retired)|
Time in space
|38d 08h 10m|
|Selection||1990 NASA Group|
|Missions||STS-63, STS-84, STS-93, STS-114|
Eileen Marie Collins (born November 19, 1956) is a retired NASA astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Colonel Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006 to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA.
Collins was born in Elmira, New York. Her parents were James E. and Rose Marie Collins, immigrants from County Cork, Ireland. She has three siblings. As a child, she participated in Girl Scouts and expressed an interest both in space flight and in being a pilot.
After graduating from Elmira Free Academy in 1974, Collins attended Corning Community College where she earned an associate degree in mathematics/science in 1976. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1978, then earned a master of science degree in operations research from Stanford University in 1986, and a master of arts degree in space systems management from Webster University in 1989.
Air Force career
Following graduation from Syracuse, she was one of four women chosen for undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. After earning her pilot wings, she stayed on at Vance for three years as a T-38 Talon instructor pilot before transitioning to the C-141 Starlifter at Travis Air Force Base, California. From 1986 to 1989, she was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, where she was an assistant professor in mathematics and a T-41 instructor pilot. In 1989, Collins became the second female pilot to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and graduated with class 89B. She was selected for the astronaut program in 1990.
Collins married pilot Pat Youngs in 1987; they have two children.
Collins was selected to be an astronaut in 1990 and first flew the Space Shuttle as pilot in 1995 aboard STS-63, which involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. In recognition of her achievement as the first female Shuttle Pilot, she received the Harmon Trophy. She was also the pilot for STS-84 in 1997.
Collins commanded STS-114, NASA's "return to flight" mission to test safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The flight was launched on July 26, 2005, and returned on August 9, 2005. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the Space Shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver. This was necessary so astronauts aboard the ISS could take photographs of the Shuttle's belly, to ensure there was no threat from debris-related damage to the Shuttle upon reentry.
On May 1, 2006, Collins announced that she would leave NASA to spend more time with her family and pursue other interests. Since her retirement from NASA, she has made occasional public appearances as an analyst covering Shuttle launches and landings for CNN.
Awards and honors
Collins has received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury), the French Legion of Honor, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and NASA Space Flight Medals, the Free Spirit Award, and the 2006 National Space Trophy. Collins also has an astronomical observatory named in her honor—the Eileen M. Collins Observatory—run by Corning Community College.
The main entrance boulevard to Syracuse Hancock International Airport is named in Collins' honor.
The New York State Legislature passed a resolution honoring her career on May 9, 2006. The resolution, which touches on the many highlights of Collins's career, reads, in part, "It is the sense of this Legislative Body to take note of and publicly acknowledge the significant milestones of those individuals from this noble Empire State who have distinguished themselves through their exemplary careers, pioneering spirit and purposeful lives." It was sponsored by State Senator George Winner in the State Senate and Assemblyman Thomas F. O'Mara in the Assembly.
The Women's Board of the Adler Planetarium awarded Eileen Collins their Women in Space Science Award on June 7, 2006.
In 2007, the Space Foundation awarded Collins the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, which is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs.
Collins is also a member of the Air Force Association, Order of Daedalians, Women Military Aviators, U.S. Space Foundation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Ninety-Nines.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eileen Collins.|
- Harty, Patricia (2001). Greatest Irish Americans of the 20th century. Oak Tree Press. p. 53.
- "Girl Scout Astronauts". NASA.
- USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. Privately Published. 1994. p. 241.
- Brady, James (2006-03-12). "In Step With... Eileen Collins". parade.com. Retrieved 2007-02-08.[dead link]
- Official NASA Bio
- STS-114 Eileen Collins Crew Profile
- Spacefacts biography of Eileen Collins
- A 1999 Us Magazine profile
- Space.com article detailing the announcement of her retirement May 1, 2006
- Hall of Fame page
- Britannica page
- First woman to pilot NASA space shuttle honoured by UCD June 2006