Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Janice Voss

Janice Elaine (Ford) Voss (October 8, 1956 – February 6, 2012) was an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. She flew in space five times, jointly holding the record for American women. Voss died on February 6, 2012 after a battle with breast cancer. Voss graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in 1972. She earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from Purdue University while working on a co-op at the Johnson Space Center. She earned an S.M. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1977. She then earned her doctorate in aeronautics/astronautics from MIT in 1987.

Voss was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1990 and flew as a mission specialist on missions STS-57 (1993), STS-63 (1995), STS-83 (1997), STS-94 (1997) and STS-99 (2000). All of Voss's flights included her and another female astronaut.

During her career as an astronaut, she participated in the first Shuttle rendezvous with the Mir space station on STS-63: it flew around the station, testing communications and inflight manoeuvres for later missions, but did not actually dock. As an STS-99 crew member on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, she and her fellow crew members worked continuously in shifts to produce what was at the time the most accurate digital topographical map of the Earth.

From October 2004 to November 2007 Voss was Science Director for NASA's Kepler Space Observatory, an Earth-orbiting satellite designed to find Earth-like extrasolar planets in nearby solar systems. It was launched in March 2009 and was still operational at the time of her death. At the Astronaut Office Station Branch, she served as the Payloads Lead. She also worked for Orbital Sciences Corporation in flight operations support.

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