SubscribeAvailable Now
Susan Helms works outside the International Space Station during the first of two space walks on NASA's STS-102 mission. This space walk was the longest to date in space shuttle history. Photo courtesy of NASA Archives.

Let’s Talk About Colorado’s Amazing Female Astronauts

NASA may not have been properly prepared for the first-ever all-women spacewalk, which was supposed to take place on March 29. But we're honoring Colorado's female astronauts and their contributions to NASA anyway.

|

Last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that the first all-female spacewalk would take place on Friday, March 29. But earlier this week, the agency announced it had to change course.

According to a Monday press release, NASA’s all-female spacewalk was disbanded due to a lack of medium-size spacesuits that were space-ready. One of the female astronauts, Anne McClain, had previously trained in both medium and large spacesuits, but on a recent spacewalk, determined that the medium would fit her best. The medium-sized suit is also what her fellow astronaut Christina Koch wears, and NASA only has one medium suit prepped for the atmospheric elements of space aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Advertisement

Despite the storm of outrage and disappointment on Twitter and across the internet, Friday’s mission—which is to upgrade the ISS power system—will continue. The all women-led launch, which would’ve included the astronauts, flight controller, and flight director, will now have one less female, and one male astronaut, with astronaut Nick Hague replacing McClain, who is now scheduled for the next mission on April 8.

In honor of Women’s History Month—and what would’ve been a really cool moment in herstory—we’re taking a look at Colorado’s badass female astronauts anyway. From the high altitude of Colorado to the higher altitude of the International Space Station, these women have helped shaped NASA.

Ret. Lieutenant General Susan Helms

Susan Helms. Photo courtesy of NASA

Susan Helms was born in North Carolina, but attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs during their first women-inclusive class in 1980. She holds degrees in aeronautical engineering, aeronautics, and astronautics, and has logged 211 days in space. Helms was the first military woman in space, the first woman to serve on the ISS, the first female commander at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and holds the current record for longest singular spacewalk (8 hours and 56 minutes). After her time at NASA, Helms served at the U.S. Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, and in 2018, she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

Dr. Serena M. Auñon-Chancellor

Serena Auñon-Chancellor. Photo courtesy of NASA

Dr. Serena Auñon-Chancellor attended Poudre High School in Fort Collins, and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University and a doctorate in medicine and health science from the University of Texas. She’s also board-certified in aerospace medicine. Auñon-Chancellor has logged more than 196 days in space, and traveled the world. She served in Russia for over nine months as medical crew for the ISS, spent two months in Antarctica searching for meteorites, and worked as an aquanaut on NASA’s NEEMO 20 underwater exploration mission off the coast of Florida. She is also one of only two female Hispanic astronauts in NASA history. In 2009, she received the U.S. Air Force Flight Surgeons Julian Ward Award, which is only given to one flight surgeon each year.

Ms. Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Photo courtesy of NASA

Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger was born in Colorado Springs and attended high school in Fort Collins before earning her bachelor’s degree in geology from Whitman College in Washington. As a teacher, she’s served as a space educator, flight engineer, robotic arm operator, and NEEMO commander and aquanaut (coincidentally, she was on the same NEEMO 16 mission as Auñon-Chancellor). When she’s not working as an educator astronaut, she teaches high school earth science and astrology in Washington. Metcalf-Lindenburger was the first attendee of NASA’s Space Camp (an educational program for children) to actually become an astronaut, and was the first person inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame in 2007. “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger is also a proud member and lead singer in the all-astronaut rock band “Max Q.”

Advertisement

Summer Guide

Newsletter Signup

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone. Sign Up