WASHINGTON (WUSA) - It’s an exciting time for women when it comes to a potential future career in air and space. How did we get here, today? We took flight to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. for Women's History Month.
Here are some of the highlights from our live TV spots with one of the museum's Curators of Space History:
At the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, as soon as you walk in on that main floor with the tall, open ceiling, take note of an unusual piece adorned on the wall. This is the last existing piece of the wind tunnel you might have seen in the new hit movie, “Hidden Figures.” The movie takes place during a time when there was a lot of aircraft testing, including taking a look at all the data that came out of this wind tunnel. As noted at the museum, it was typical for women to be hired to do the work of reducing the data coming out and in “Hidden Figures,” Janelle Monaé played the role of an African American woman who had that job. Now, high powered computers run those numbers, but the transition from woman to machine, led to some of the first computer programmers being women. That’s because they were the ones who knew the equations and thus, the best ones to write the code.
Sally Ride was the first American Woman to go to space. She flew on the space shuttle in 1983 and she was an important symbol for American Women of being able to break that glass ceiling into space and became an important voice for NASA in terms of their direction. She helped get NASA to not only think about their space exploration that they were doing, but to look back at earth and how much space science could help us on earth, specifically understand more about our planet, environment and the science of where we live.
When we think about going to space, where there’s zero gravity, things change in our bodies and there are potential physical limitations. For Sally Ride, who is of petite stature, she was flying with more of a lightweight space suit and worked in a less constrictive environment, as part of the space shuttle at that time. Otherwise, it would have been difficult for her to fill out and feel as comfortable in a traditional space suit, as other astronauts with perhaps more broad shoulders for example. Nonetheless, Sally Ride was extremely physically fit.
Jeanette Epps is another incredible woman in space who is breaking records, today. In 2018, she will be the first African American Woman to fly on the International Space Station, making her the 13th woman to do this. A very important mile stone, so how does one prepare for this? What will she bring? How can we become the next Janette Eps or Sally Ride? You can ask these questions and more at an upcoming event hosted by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on March 18th, 10am -3pm, called Women in Aviation and Space Family Day.
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