As of May 2021, out of seven people in space, astronaut Megan McArthur is the only woman currently in space.
Have you recently thought about getting off this planet? Maybe becoming an astronaut is the right career path for you. June 16th marks the 58th anniversary of the first woman to ever fly in space. Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to take flight into the open Milky Way in 1963. Since then, many women have followed in Tereshkova’s footsteps and worked their way into space, like astronaut Megan McArthur.
The idea of being an astronaut orbited in McArthurs mind her whole life, but she dove into oceanography for her studies and career. In a NASA interview, McArthur says, “It’s all about exploration” and explains that there are many parallels between the mystery of space and the ocean, and how important the advancement of technology is to learn more about the places we call home. McArthur spent her younger years living close to an astronaut training facility and watched NASA astronauts put their gear on and train for their upcoming space missions. Watching the hardworking NASA extraordinaries inspired her to later become a determined astronaut herself.
McArthur joins the class of women who’ve made it to space, a small group of only 65 women. Though NASA is still mainly men, the number of women that pursue their space-centered dreams continues to grow. Representation of women in space is an important part of young women who will grow up to be STEM majors and operators that will serve as scientists and trailblazers.
Although McArthur went to space in April of 2021, she has a long history of working with NASA as she’s played several important roles for the space association. According to NASA, she was initially selected as a Mission Specialist in 2000. Throughout her career, she’s been apart of many important missions that continue to help the space exploration mission. In her NASA interview, footage is shown of McArthur and her crew-mates sending a telescope into space. McArthur is currently serving as a pilot as she flies through the galaxy and collects vital information.
McArthur continues to emphasize how important teamwork is, whether the team is fellow crew-mates or other countries working towards space exploration. “We dreamed these amazing dreams, we have these huge goals, and we’re going to be successful when we work on them together,” she explains.