The 2012 Space Lecture
Colonel Eileen M. Collins
Leadership Lessons from Apollo to Discovery
November 13 | 7pm | Wright Auditorium
Eileen M. Collins is a retired American astronaut and a retired U. S. 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 has been awarded several medals honoring her accomplishments in space. Collins has logged 38 days, 8 hours, and 10 minutes in outter space.
Collins was selected to be an astronaut in 1992. She 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 became 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. In July 2005, Collins commanded STS-114, NASA's "return to flight" mission to test safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The “Return to Flight” mission was NASA’s first manned flight following the February 2003 loss of the Shuttle Columbia. 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. Since retirement from NASA, she has been seen as a Space Shuttle analyst generally covering Shuttle launches and landings for CNN.