Col. Eileen Collins is the first American woman to command a Space Mission. Eileen M. Collins is a former astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. She retired from the Air Force in Jan 2005 and from NASA in May 2006 after a 28-year distinguished career. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a space shuttle.
Collins graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1990. She was selected by NASA and became an astronaut in July 1991. After tours at Kennedy Space Center (shuttle launch and landing) and Johnson Space Center (shuttle engineer and capsule communicator), she flew the space shuttle as pilot in 1995 aboard Discovery. She was also the pilot for Atlantis in 1997, where her crew docked with the Russian Space Station MIR. Collins became the first woman commander of a U.S. spacecraft with shuttle mission Columbia in 1999, the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Her final space flight was as commander of Discovery in 2005, the "Return to Flight Mission" after the tragic loss of Columbia. She has logged more than 6,751 hours in 30 different types of aircraft and more than 872 hours in space as a veteran of four space flights.
Collins currently serves on several boards and advisory panels, is a professional speaker and an aerospace consultant. She is married with two children.
Collins is also a member of the Air Force Association, Order of Daedalians, Women Military Aviators, Women in Aviation International, U.S. Space Foundation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Ninety-Nines.
Official Site: http://marklarson.com/eileencollins/one.html