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The Path to High Adventure Begins With Girl Scouting!

The Path to High Adventure Begins With Girl Scouting!

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Former NASA astronaut and Girl Scout alumna Jan Davis eating Girl Scout Cookies inside the shuttle Endeavour on Sept. 12, 1992. Image credit: NASA

Leadership, service, being prepared and doing your best – these qualities are exemplified by our astronauts, but are also shared by the Girl Scouts! Our astronaut corps has many scout alumnae, and over the years they’ve been breaking barriers and making names for themselves at NASA.

March 12, 2021 marks the 109th birthday of Girl Scouts in the United States, which has been inspiring generations of girls through leadership and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities to empower the explorers of today and tomorrow. To celebrate, we’re highlighting some of our Girl Scout alumnae over the years!

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NASA astronaut and Girl Scout alumna Sunita Williams, who served as an International Space Station commander and spent 322 days in space during two spaceflight expeditions.

Former Scouts have served as crew members on numerous spaceflight missions.

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From left: Susan Helms, the first female International Space Station crew member; Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command a space shuttle; and Dr. Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to perform a spacewalk.

Former Girl Scouts flew on more than one-third of the space shuttle missions and were pioneering forces as women began making their mark on human spaceflight. The first female crew member to serve on the International Space Station, the first to pilot and command a space shuttle and the first American woman to spacewalk were all Scout alumnae. 

They continue to break records, such as the first three all-woman spacewalks… 

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Girl Scout alumnae and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history when they conducted the first ever all-woman spacewalk on Oct.18, 2019. They went on to complete two more spacewalks, successfully completing their task of upgrading the space station’s battery charge/discharge unit. Christina and Jessica’s historic spacewalk was a testament to the growing number of women (and Girl Scouts) joining our astronaut corps; it is a milestone worth celebrating as we look forward to putting the first woman on the Moon with our Artemis Program! 

….and the longest spaceflight ever by a woman!

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NASA astronaut Christina Koch smiles for a selfie while completing tasks during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Koch went on to seal her name in the record books by surpassing Peggy Whitson’s record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman!

Understanding how the human body adjusts to things like weightlessness, radiation and bone-density loss is crucial as we look forward to embarking on long-duration spaceflights to the Moon and Mars. Thanks to former astronaut Scott Kelly’s Year in Space mission, we’ve been able to observe these changes on a biological male. Now, thanks to Christina’s mission, we are able to observe these changes on a biological female. 

Girl Scout alumnae will also help lead human exploration farther than ever before as members of our Artemis generation!

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 From left: NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Loral O’Hara and Kayla Barron

On January 10, 2020 we welcomed 11 new astronauts to our ranks – including three Girl Scout alumnae! As part of the first-ever class of astronauts under our Artemis lunar exploration program, Kayla Barron, Jessica Watkins and Loral O’Hara are now qualified for assignments including long-duration missions to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars.

They took a moment after graduation to share inspiration and insight for current and future Scouts!

Q: A question from the Girl Scouts: What inspires you?

A: “Being a part of an awesome team has always been what inspires me. Whether it’s your Girl Scout troop, a sports team, your class – I think for me always the people around me who push me to succeed and support me when I make mistakes and help me become my best self is what inspires me to show up and do my best.” – NASA astronaut Kayla Barron 

Q: How has being a Girl Scout helped you in becoming an astronaut?

A: “Being in the Girl Scouts when I was younger was really cool because, well, first it was just a group of my friends who got to do a lot of different things together. But it really gave us the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of different areas. Like we’d get to go camping. We’d get to ride horses and learn all of these different skills, and so that variety of skill set I think is very applicable to being an astronaut.” – NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara 

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of Girl Scout astronauts?

A: “My advice would be to find something that you’re passionate about. Ideally something in the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics, and to pursue that thing that you’re interested in. Pursue that passion, whatever it is. And don’t give up on your dreams, and continue to follow them until you arrive where you want to be.” – NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins 

To all the Girl Scouts out there, keep reaching for the stars because the sky is no longer the limit!

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