Women are still making big differences in the world of science and everywhere else. One of the Americans who spent the most amount of time in space at one time was Shannon W. Lucid. She became an astronaut in 1978 and flew in space five different times. She is also the only American woman to have ever spent time on the Mir space station.
Shannon grew up in Oklahoma after being born in China. She always felt like she had a long way to travel in her life. She studied hard in school, finally deciding to study biochemistry in college. By the time she decided to become an astronaut, she’d already had her first child.
It was not heard of for women to go into space, but Shannon was one of the first six women to be admitted to the program. All six women were admitted at the same time. Shannon was the only one of these who had a baby at home.
Even though it was expected that she would stay home, Shannon really wanted to go into space. It was something she always felt she needed to do so she didn’t let anything stop her.
Her first four space flights were basic missions for the Space Shuttle Discovery, but her fifth mission was the one where she got to stay on Mir for a little while. Because of problems back on Earth, she ended up staying on the space station an extra 6 weeks – that’s a month and a half! Her record was 188 days up in space.
She said she never got bored up there all by herself because there was always something to do.
“I could wake up in the morning and think, ‘What kind of exciting science can I do today?’ and immediately get to work.”
What kinds of science do you think you’d like to do today?