STS-131: Let's Hear It For The Girls!

It seems as though men have dominated the recent spate of Shuttle missions with maybe one or two women added in for good measure. Well, with the STS-131 mission, Space Shuttle Discovery is set to redress that imbalance with three female crew riding aboard for the trip to the ISS. Veteran American astronaut Stephanie Wilson is joined by two first-time female fliers, American astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki as mission specialists. They don't outnumber the men just yet though, as they will be flying with four American guys, Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton, and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson.

The STS-131 Crew with their mission patch

The launch of Discovery is targeted for 6:21am EDT on April 5th, and will bring a logistics module packed with much needed science racks and supplies to the station. During the 13 day mission, Mastracchio and Anderson will conduct three spacewalks to replace an ammonia tank assembly, retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior and switch out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 element of the station’s truss.

Stephanie Wilson's last visit to the station was back in November of 2007 when she accompanied former female astronaut Lisa Nowak on the STS-120 mission that delivered the Harmony Node to the station, which opened up the capability to add the European Columbus module and the Japanese Kibo module.

It is great to see more female crew taking part in the human spaceflight program, I personally feel there is a need for lot more diversity in gender and cultural representation as it tends to be thought of as the American boys and their toys. Diversity creates more interest across the cultures and sexes, and the more interest we can generate in human spaceflight the better. Although we are losing the capability of the Shuttle at the end of this year, there is a lot of movement on the ground from private space enterprises. Government space agencies have set the ball rolling, and now it is time for the rest of us to have a go at the drive into space.

Keep up the good work girls! (oh, and guys too).

Image credit: NASA
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