EILEEN COLLINS Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Name: Eileen Marie Collins                                                                   
Born: 19 November 1956 Elmira, New York                                                     
Eileen Marie Collins (b. 19 November 1956 in Elmira, New York) 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 retired on May 1, 2006 to pursue private                   
interests, including service as a board member of USAA.                                     
Collins 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.                               
Commander Collins and STS-114 crew in their way to launch pad.                               
In addition to becoming the first female shuttle pilot, Collins also 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. This was               
Shuttle Columbia's penultimate completed mission, the final one being STS-109,               
which flew in March 2002. The Columbia was later lost in the Columbia disaster (STS-107)     
on 1 February 2003.                                                                         
Collins recently commanded STS-114, NASA's "return to flight" mission to test               
safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The                 
flight was launched on 26 July 2005, and returned on 9 August 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 re-entry.                                         
On May 1st of 2006, Collins announced that she would leave NASA to spend more               
time with her family and pursue other interests.                                             
Since her retirement from NASA, she has been seen as a Space Shuttle analyst                 
generally covering Shuttle launches and landings for CNN.