Women in space: Two astronauts have ties to Pasadena area

There are a record-setting four women currently in space — two of them with ties to the Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley area — and we wanted to know more about these trailblazing astronauts.

As the Associated Press reported, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a native of Arcadia, was aboard a Russian rocket last week when it blasted off with two Russian cosmonauts en route to the International Space Station.

And Stephanie D. Wilson, formerly of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Caada Flintridge, was aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as it launched on Monday.

Here are some stats on Dyson from NASA:
  • Born in Arcadia
  • Competed in track and field at Cal State University, Fullerton as a sprinter and long jumper
  • Earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Davis
  • Speaks in American Sign Language and Russian (In a photo below, see Dyson giving the ILY, “I love you,” sign in American Sign Language as she boards a Russian rocket on April 2 headed for the space station.)
  • Selected by NASA in June 1998; Spent the following year assigned to the Astronaut Office ISS Operations Branch as a Russian Crusader. Participated in testing and integrating Russian hardware and software developed for the International Space Station
  • As of Nov. 2009, had logged over 305 hours in space
  • First space flight was in 2007, which marked the 119th space shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the International Space Station and the 20th flight for the shuttle Endeavour
  • During 2007 mission, assisted in flight-deck operations on ascent and also aided in docking operations with the space station; Operated Endeavour’s robotic arm and also served as the intravehicular crew member, directing four spacewalks
  • Has been a lead singer with Max Q, a rock band made up entirely of NASA astronauts
  • Celebrated her 38th birthday in space
And here’s what we learned from NASA on Stephanie D. Wilson:

  • Worked for for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory starting in 1992

  • Is the second African American woman in space. The first was Mae Jemison
  • Hails from Boston
  • At JPL, was part of the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem for the Galileo spacecraft, which controls the orientation of a spacecraft so that onboard operations are precisely executed
  • Veteran of two previous space flights, in 2006 and 2007
  • As of March 2010, had logged over 28 days in space
  • 2006 mission was a 13-day, return-to-flight test and assembly flight to the International Space Station. Space Shuttle Discovery crew tested new equipment and safety procedures, repaired a rail car on the space station and produced cutting-edge, high-resolution images of the shuttle
  • Wilson’s role, in 2006, included supporting robotic arm operations and transferring more than 15,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the space station
  • 2007 mission was part of the assembly of the International Space Station and a crew rotation light, carrying a new crew member to the station and bringing home another
  • With Discovery crew, in 2007, carried a module named “Harmony” to the ISS, a utility hub that would open up capability for future international laboratories to be connected to the station

  • 2007 crew also performed an unplanned spacewalk to complete repairs

Here’s a round-up of photos, new and old, of the two U.S. women astronauts:

Below, U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, bottom, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, top, boarding a Russian Soyuz TMA-18 rocket at Kazakhstan’s Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on April 2. They are headed for the International Space Station.


Dyson, below, gets put into her space suit on April 2.


Below, Dyson speaks during an April 1 news conference at Baikonur cosmodrome.


This series of images, below, includes Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko before they entered a training module outside Moscow in Star City on March 12.




Below, mission specialist Stephanie Wilson, center, with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, left, and mission specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, right, part of the crew of the space shuttle Discovery as they walk out on April 5 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in advance of the early morning launch.


Below, NASA’s STS-131 astronauts, including Wilson, third from left, in Cape Canaveral on April 5. Part of Discovery’s mission includes carrying a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the laboratories aboard the International Space Station.


Below, NASA’s STS-131 mission specialists, Metcalf-Lindenburger, Clayton Anderson, Wilson and Yamazaki prepare to address the media at the shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center on March 5 in Cape Canaveral.


Wilson, below, in 2008, greeting astronaut Doug Wheelock during a presentation at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.


Below, in a 2007 photo, Wilson inspects the space shuttle Discovery after a 15-day flight. Discovery’s crew in 2007 delivered the Harmony Node to the International Space Station and repaired damage to a solar array on the station during a dramatic spacewalk.


Below, Wilson, in 2007, at the center of a huddle of space shuttle crew.


Below, mission specialist Wilson, in 2006, answering questions during a press conference after Discovery’s landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Discovery shuttle’s 13-day mission in 2006 put NASA back on track to finish building the International Space Station.


In a 2006 photo, below, Wilson in a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center discussing the space shuttle Discovery’s mission that year to make its 18th flight to the International Space Station.


(Source: NASA / Getty Images)

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