1956: A Record-Setting Astronaut Begins Her Life’s Journey

October 8, 1956

Janice E. Voss, an engineer and NASA astronaut, was born in South Bend, Indiana. In 1975, she received a B.S. in engineering science from Purdue University. Voss earned her M.S.in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a couple of years later. In 1987, Voss received her PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT; for her doctoral studies, she focused on the development of algorithms to identify frequencies, damping, and mode shapes for the International Space Station.

Voss was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1990 and, the following year, she officially became an astronaut. Voss went on to serve as a mission specialist in five missions into space – STS-57 (in 1993); STS-63 (in 1995); STS-83 (in 1997); STS-94 (also in 1997); and STS-99 (in 2000). She is one of the top record-holders when it comes to the highest number of spaceflights for female astronauts. Voss logged more than 49 days altogether in space and traveled a total of 18.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers) in 779 Earth orbits.

Voss, who died of breast cancer in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2012 at the age of 55, cited Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 young adult novel A Wrinkle in Time as one of her biggest inspirations for a career as an astronaut. A Wrinkle in Time is about a girl who travels through time to rescue her father, who is an astrophysicist for the U.S. government, from a faraway planet on which he has been imprisoned. Voss brought this book with her when she flew into space on the mission STS-94, and she subsequently mailed that copy to L’Engle.

Photo Credit: NASA

For more information on Janice E. Voss, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janice_E._Voss

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