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Tribute: Eileen Collins Born in 1956: A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle: #AceHistoryDesk report

#AceHistoryReport – Feb.02: Eileen Marie Collins (born November 19, 1956) is a retired NASAastronaut and United States Air Force colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Colonel Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 20 minutes in outer space. Collins retired on May 1, 2006, to pursue private interests, including service as a board member of USAA.Eileen CollinsBornEileen Marie Collins
November 19, 1956 (age 64)
Elmira, New York, U.S.StatusRetiredOccupationTest pilotSpace careerNASAAstronautRankColonel, USAFTime in space38d 08h 20mSelection1990 NASA Group 13MissionsSTS-63, STS-84, STS-93, STS-114Mission insigniaRetirementMay 1, 2006

Eileen Collins Born 1956: A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She was awarded several medals for her work. Colonel Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 20 minutes in outer space.

Commander Eileen Collins - GPN-2000-001177.jpg

Early life

Collins was born in Elmira, New York. Her parents were James E. and Rose Marie Collins. According to a speech she gave when she was inducted into the Irish American 2016 Hall of Fame, her ancestors came to America in the mid-1800s, settling in Pennsylvania and Elmira, New York. She has three siblings. As a child, she participated in Girl Scouts,[2] and expressed an interest both in space flight and in being a pilot.

After graduating from Elmira Free Academy in 1974, Collins attended Corning Community College where she earned an associate degree in mathematics/science in 1976. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1978 with a bachelor of arts in mathematics and economics, then earned a master of science degree in operations research from Stanford University in 1986, and a master of arts degree in space systems management from Webster University in 1989.

Air Force career

Following graduation from Syracuse, she was one of four women chosen for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force BaseOklahoma. After earning her pilot wings, she stayed on at Vance for three years as a T-38 Talon instructor pilot before transitioning to the C-141 Starlifter at Travis Air Force BaseCalifornia. From 1986 to 1989, she was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, where she was an assistant professor in mathematics and a T-41 instructor pilot. In 1989, Collins became the second female pilot to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and graduated with class 89B. She was selected for the astronaut program in 1990.[3]

Collins married pilot Pat Youngs in 1987; they have two children.[4]



Collins at the commander’s station on Columbia during Day 1 of STS-93



Mission Commander Collins and STS-114crew on their way to launch pad.

Collins was selected to be an astronaut in 1990 and first flew the Space Shuttle as pilot in 1995 aboard STS-63, which involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. In recognition of her achievement as the first female Shuttle Pilot, she received the Harmon Trophy. She was also the pilot for STS-84 in 1997.

Collins was also the first female commander of a U.S. Spacecraft with Shuttle mission STS-93, launched in July 1999, which deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.[5][6][7][8]

Collins commanded STS-114, NASA’s “return to flight” mission to test safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The flight was launched on July 26, 2005, and returned on August 9, 2005. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the Space Shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver. This was necessary so astronauts aboard the ISS could take photographs of the Shuttle’s belly, to ensure there was no threat from debris-related damage to the Shuttle upon reentry.

On May 1, 2006, Collins announced that she would leave NASA to spend more time with her family and pursue other interests.[9] Since her retirement from NASA, she has made occasional public appearances as an analyst covering Shuttle launches and landings for CNN.

Other activities

In May 2001, Collins was the commencement speaker at the 148thcommencement of Syracuse University.[10][11]

Since her 2007 election, Collins has served as a United Services Automobile Association (USAA) director, Vice Chair of USAA’s Risk Committee, and a member of USAA’s Member and Technology and Nominating and Governance committees. According to the Nebraska Department of Insurance, Collins receives an annual salary of about $300,000/year plus a full pension for her service as a director at USAA.[citation needed]

Political activity


Collins speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention

On July 20, 2016, Collins addressed the Republican National Conventionin Cleveland, Ohio.[12] It was speculated that she would be appointed NASA administrator under President Donald Trump.[13]

Awards and honors

Collins has also received the Free Spirit Award, and the 2006 National Space Trophy, and has an astronomical observatory named in her honor—the Eileen M. Collins Observatory—run by Corning Community College.

Collins has been inducted into the  National Women’s Hall Of Fame.[14]She has also been recognized by Encyclopædia Britannica as one of the top 300 women in history who have changed the world.[15]

The main entrance boulevard to Syracuse Hancock International Airportis named in Collins’ honor.[16]

The New York State Legislature passed a resolution honoring her career on May 9, 2006. The resolution, which touches on the many highlights of Collins’s career, reads, in part, “It is the sense of this Legislative Body to take note of and publicly acknowledge the significant milestones of those individuals from this noble Empire State who have distinguished themselves through their exemplary careers, pioneering spirit and purposeful lives.” It was sponsored by State Senator George Winner in the State Senate and Assemblyman Thomas F. O’Mara in the Assembly.

Elmira College awarded Eileen Collins an honorary Doctor of Sciencedegree at the college’s 148th Commencement Ceremony on June 4, 2006. Previously Collins received an honorary degree from another alma mater, Webster University, in 1996.[17]

In 2001, Collins received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[18]

The Women’s Board of the Adler Planetarium awarded Eileen Collins their Women in Space Science Award on June 7, 2006.

University College Dublin conferred on Colonel Collins the honorary Doctor of Science degree of the National University of Ireland on June 14, 2006.[19]

In 2007, the Space Foundation awarded Collins the Douglas S. MorrowPublic Outreach Award,[20] which is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs.

On April 19, 2013, Eileen Collins was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.[21]

Collins is also a member of the Air Force AssociationOrder of Daedalians, Women Military Aviators, U.S. Space Foundation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Ninety-Nines.



Air Force Master Astronaut badgeDefense Superior Service MedalLegion of MeritDistinguished Flying CrossDefense Meritorious Service MedalMeritorious Service Medal
with clusterAir Force Commendation Medal
with clusterNASA Outstanding Leadership MedalNASA Space Flight Medal
with three clustersOrganizational Excellence Award
with two clustersNational Defense Service Medal
with starArmed Forces Expeditionary MedalGlobal War on Terrorism Service MedalAir Force Longevity Service Ribbon
with five clustersAir Force Training RibbonLégion d’honneur

See also


  1.  “Today in History – Syracuse University Graduate Eileen Collins Chosen as First Woman to Pilot Space Shuttle”Onondaga Historical Association. March 18, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  2.  “Girl Scout Astronauts”NASA. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  3.  USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. Privately Published. 1994. p. 241.
  4.  Brady, James (March 12, 2006). “In Step With… Eileen Collins”. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2007.
  5.  * “Biographical Data: EILEEN MARIE COLLINS (COLONEL, USAF, RET.) NASA ASTRONAUT (FORMER)” (PDF). NASA. May 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  6.  (JSC), Mark Garcia. “NASA – STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins: From ‘Soaring Capital of America’ to the Space Shuttle”
  7.  Becker, Joachim. “Astronaut Biography: Eileen Collins”
  8.  A 1999 Us Magazine profile Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. article detailing the announcement of her retirement May 1, 2006
  10.  “NASA astronaut Eileen Collins to deliver Syracuse University/ESF 2001 Commencement address”SU News. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  11.  “2001 Commencement Address”SU News. Retrieved May 14,2019.
  12.  Pavlich, Katie. “Here is Wednesday’s RNC Convention Schedule”.
  13.  Foust, Jeff (November 11, 2016). “NASA Administrator Bridenstine? His name’s in the mix for Trump’s space team”SpaceNews. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  14.  “Home – National Women’s Hall of Fame”National Women’s Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 3, 2002.
  15.  “Britannica page”.
  16.  Mariani, John (July 8, 2011). “Space shuttle retirement prompts space veterans with Syracuse ties to ask, What’s next?”Syracuse. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  17.  “Honorary Degrees at Webster University”. Retrieved October 16,2018.
  18.  “Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement”http://www.achievement.orgAmerican Academy of Achievement.
  19.  First woman to pilot NASA space shuttle honoured by UCD June 2006
  20.  “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  21.  Granath, Bob (April 20, 2013). “Three Space Shuttle Astronauts Inducted into Hall of Fame” NASA. Retrieved February 8, 2016.

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eileen Collins.

#AceHistoryDesk report ……….Published: Feb.03: 2021:

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