Space is about to have a female population explosion.
One woman already is circling Earth in a Russian capsule, bound for the International Space Station. Early Monday morning, NASA will attempt to launch three more women to the orbiting outpost — along with four men — aboard shuttle Discovery.
It will be the most women in space at the same time.
Men still will outnumber the women by more than 2-to-1 aboard the shuttle and station, but that won’t take away from the remarkable achievement, coming 27 years after America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride, rocketed into space.
About time. And it makes me hopeful that when we tell our daughter women can do anything they want, it just keeps getting truer and truer:
[Differences among the astronauts] makes no difference to educator-astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger’s 3-year-old daughter Cambria.
“To her, flying is cool. Running around is being cool. Just learning and growing up as a kid is cool. There aren’t a lot of distinctions, and that’s how I want it to be,” said Metcalf-Lindenburger, 34, who used to teach high school science in Vancouver, Wash.
Indeed, the head of NASA’s space operations was unaware of the imminent women-in-space record until a reporter brought it up last week. Three women have flown together in space before, but only a few times.
“Maybe that’s a credit to the system, right? That I don’t think of it as male or female,” said space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier. “I just think of it as a talented group of people going to do their job in space.”
The women: Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Naoko Yamazaki (the second Japanese woman in space), Stephanie Wilson (the second African-American woman in space), and chemist Tracy Caldwell Dyson.
And wonder of wonders, the article is a high-profile acknowledgment of stay-at-home dads as well:
Perhaps even more astounding, at least in Japan, Yamazaki’s husband quit his space station flight controller’s job to follow her career and help care for their 7-year-old daughter.
“It is very rare. In Japan, it’s general for men to work and for women to stay at home,” Yamazaki, 39, said.
Hurrah for women and men blazing new trails.
(Image credit: AP/John Raoux)