Eileen Collins Facts

Eileen Collins was the first female pilot to command a Space Shuttle mission. This happened in 1999 and was the first time a woman had done so. It was a great achievement for women everywhere and helped set new standards for both genders in space exploration.

Eileen Collins then went on to become the first female Commander of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a feat accomplished in 2006. She retired from active duty later that same year.

In addition to being a trailblazer in space exploration, Eileen Collins is worth noting as an amazing role model due to her fluency in three languages and expertise in mathematics and aeronautical sciences.

She will always be remembered for her determination and courage, which helped pave the way for future generations of astronauts and scientists. Eileen Collins is an inspirational pioneer of space travel whose achievements will never be forgotten.

Quick Navigation

Eileen Collins Facts for Kids

  • Eileen Collins was the first woman to pilot a space shuttle.
  • She flew on four space missions.
  • Collins was a military test pilot before becoming an astronaut.
  • She commanded the space shuttle Discovery and Atlantis.
  • Collins retired from NASA in 2006.
  • She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

Childhood and Educational Background

Dreaming. As a child, Eileen Collins loved to dream of soaring planes and eventually becoming a pilot herself. After being born in Elmira, New York, she experienced the magical possibilities that gliding could bring as an iconic location for aspiring aviators.

Despite the challenges of stuttering and her parents’ separation when she was only nine, her hope never faltered.

Soaring. Collins had experiences from an early age at the Harris Hill Soaring Center, witnessing other pilots challenge themselves in acts of breathtaking altitude and accuracy.

With sheer determination and support from family, Eileen Marie Collins held on to her dreams of becoming a powerful aviator while navigating the complexities of transitioning childhood into adulthood.

Inspiring. Times were tough for Eileen’s family, though this did not deter them as they all celebrated small victories together at their local airport, watching planes take off and innately enrapturing young Eileen with a sense of awareness that if one puts their mind to something amazing, then it can be achieved.

An inspirational feat is unrivaled by anyone else who attempted such accomplishments before or since; there are few figures more inspiring than Eileen Marie Collins.

Dreams can come true with grit and hard work. That’s the story of Eileen Collins, one of the first female military pilots in the U.S. She was a determined 19-year-old when she began saving money to take private flying lessons.

Working long nights in a pizza parlor, she scraped together enough cash to pursue her interest in aviation – making the impossible a reality.

With the support of her family, her education only grew from there – first a community college degree, then the ROTC program granting her a scholarship to Syracuse University, and finally, winning entry into the prestigious military pilot class at Vance Air Force Base.

She was one of only four women chosen out of 120 applicants, meaning everyone had high expectations for this groundbreaking group of individuals.

Eileen Collins had taken up multiple pursuits and stuck through challenging circumstances to make her dream come true – showing us it’s never too late for transformation and improvement!

Professional Achievements and Impact

Collins was an inspiration to everyone around her when she became the first female flight instructor for the U.S. Air Force at just 23 years old after completing a year of professional pilot training.

She further enhanced her incredible legacy by teaching flying bases in Oklahoma, California, and Colorado from 1979 until 1990, while also working as an assistant professor of mathematics at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

She kept pushing and never stopped learning, earning a master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University and a master of arts degree in space systems management from Webster University by 32 years old after completing 1,500 hours of flight time.

Just when it seemed she had achieved visibility unimaginable before her determination and skill were showcased, Collins took another leap forward towards excellence by becoming the second woman ever accepted into the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California and subsequently being presented with an opportunity with NASA’s astronaut program in 1990.

For five years with NASA, Collins committed herself to provide engineering support for satellites, being a part of its Spacecraft Communicator team, serve as Chief Information Officer and Astronaut Safety branch chief, among many other important responsibilities that announced her name loud to anyone willing to listen – Male or Female – She is someone not easily forgotten!

Eileen Collins was the woman who marked history as the first to command a space shuttle. In her first mission in 1995, Collins flew under a joint project between U.S. and Russia. And two years later, she piloted another mission of Discovery and Mir.

But it was in 1999 that she accomplished the historic milestone of being the first female commander of a spacecraft with Columbia, who carried a large X-ray telescope in space.

In 2005, Collins commanded Discovery for fourteen days to improve safety features.

Her crew spent the majority of this time docked at International Space Station (ISS). It wasn’t an easy flight as they encountered many technical problems during the journey, but Collins managed to guide them safely to landing with her skilled commands.

Private Life

In 2005, Collins left the U.S. Air Force with the title of colonel. Her time in space was remarkable at 872 hours over six flights. After NASA, she and her husband lived quietly in Elmira, New York.

Pat Youngs was Collins’ love connection, meeting back in 1980s California when they were both flight instructors. Today, the couple have two kids – Bridget and Luke – a real family of sky-high dreams.

Collins is an inspiration to many; her courage and commitment to the stars have earned her books and stories honoring her legacy as an ace pilot and veteran astronaut.

She embodies true resilience, never giving up on her mission even when facing immense physical challenges such as G-Forces experienced inside a spacecraft or incapacitating spatial orientation issues that once plagued her during one of the Shuttle’s missions long ago.

A fearless airborne pioneer that continues to lead by example for everyone who dares to dream of setting sail toward the same heights no one else will dare touch.

Accolades and Recognition

Eileen M. Collins was recognized for her incredible accomplishments in the field of space exploration. She was awarded the 2006 National Space Trophy, which stands as a testament to her pioneering efforts and leadership. To pay their respects, Corning Community College named an entire observatory after her.

Collins’ many accolades didn’t stop there. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and even honored by Encyclopedia Britannica’s ‘300 women who changed the world.’ These acknowledgments placed Eileen M. Collins among some of the most iconic female figures in history.

She proved it is possible for anyone to achieve greatness with sheer determination, resilience, and passion for Discovery. That’s what truly makes Eileen’s feats truly remarkable and everlasting.