National Geographic : 2012 May
GRAPHIC: LAWSON PARKER, NGM STAFF. ILLUSTRATIONS: MATTHEW TWOMBLY, NGM STAFF SOURCE: NASA HISTORY PROGRAM OFFICE. PHOTO: ITAR TASS/AP IMAGES Male Female Tourist Single-mission career Multiple-mission career OR Dots represent instances of people in space. For each individual: 1963 Valentina Tereshkova's three-day trip set the rst milestone for women in space. Others are highlighted in the time line. Who's Been to Space? If not for Dwight D. Eisenhower, sailors and mountain climbers might have been among the first Americans lofted into space. That's because NASA initially considered asking a variety of people with high-risk occupations to apply for the astronaut corps. But the U.S. President made the call: Astronauts had to be military test pilots, who in 1959 were all men. The doctor who designed the astronaut screening exams wondered how women would fare. "The thinking was, the Mer- cury capsule is small, so why not have smaller people inside?" says NASA historian Bill Barry. Thirteen women passed unofficial, privately funded tests in the early 1960s. Nearly two decades later NASA accepted its first female astronauts. After 2000 civilians started undergoing training to fly as space tourists--- including a circus clown, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. Now, as eyes turn toward Mars, experts are asking how humans will weather interplanetary treks. Among the issues: radiation exposure, bone loss, and faster aging. ---Victoria Jaggard Shannon Lucid (1996) First U.S. woman to live on a space station Eileen Collins (1995) First female space shuttle pilot; (1999) first female shuttle commander (2007) Peggy Whitson holds the spacewalking record for a woman: 39 hours, 46 minutes, spread over six space walks. (2007) Sunita Williams holds the female record for longest single mission: 195 days. (2003) Space shuttle Columbia disintegrates during reentry, killing all seven crew members. (1986) Space shuttle Challenger breaks apart during takeoff, killing the crew of seven.