NASA astronaut Janice Voss – a veteran of five spaceflights – passed away overnight after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 55 years old.
An engineering graduate of Purdue University and MIT, Voss was chosen for the astronaut corps in January 1990. She flew on five space shuttle missions from 1993-2000. Over the course of those five missions she logged 49 days in space and travelled nearly 19 million miles, having orbited the Earth 779 times – tying her with the record for the most spaceflights by a woman.
Voss was part of the first shuttle mission to rendezvous with Russia’s MIR space station on STS-63, flown by shuttle Discovery. On her first flight, STS-57 aboard shuttle Endeavour, she helped conduct biomedical and material science experiments in the new Spacehab module – a pressurized laboratory mounted inside the shuttle’s payload bay. Her final mission was flown again on shuttle Endeavour, STS-99 – a flight to the International Space Station as part of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission which mapped over 47 million square miles of the Earth’s surface.
The other two missions she flew on, STS-83 and STS-94, were quite unique in that the crew’s were the same for both of those missions – the only time in the shuttle program’s history that an entire crew launched twice to achieve the same mission. STS-83 was a science mission to be flown by shuttle Columbia, but three days into the flight a problem occurred with one of Columbia’s fuel cells, forcing the crew to return to Earth early. Three months passed before Columbia was ready to fly again, at which time Voss and her crew launched, this time on STS-94, to complete the Microgravity Science Laboratory mission.
“As the payload commander of two space shuttle missions, Janice was responsible for paving the way for experiments that we now perform on a daily basis on the International Space Station,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office. “By improving the way scientists are able to analyze their data, and establishing the experimental methods and hardware necessary to perform these unique experiments, Janice and her crew ensured that our space station would be the site of discoveries that we haven’t even imagined.”
“During the last few years, Janice continued to lead our office’s efforts to provide the best possible procedures to crews operating experiments on the station today,” Whitson added. “Even more than Janice’s professional contributions, we will miss her positive outlook on the world and her determination to make all things better.”
From 2004-2007 Voss headed the science program for the agency’s Kepler Space Observatory at NASA’s AMES Research Center at Moffett Field, CA. After leaving AMES in 2007 she served as the payload lead in the astronaut office’s space station branch at the johnson Space Center in Houston.
For Voss’s complete biography, please visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/voss-jan.html
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