Technology will soon allow us to skydive from space. Will a woman be the first to make the leap? A long history of female space pioneers offers inspiration. By Jenny Beswick (Graduate of Engineering)
In 2012 we saw daredevil Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner break three world records by jumping out of a pressurised capsule 127,852 feet above the earth. In 2013 it was announced that an engineering revolution would soon allow people to dive from space.
Solar System Express and Juxtopia LLC were working together on this innovative project, which aims to release a production model of a suit that will allow space diving by 2016. With jet packs, power gloves, advanced goggles and movement gyros, the suite they're building resembles something from the Iron Man movies. So with men already skydiving from way above earth, who will be the next person to actually go deep into space and leap? Will a female astro iron woman take the lead?
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
It is not a new adventure for women to travel to space. Historically, many women have made an impact. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. Aboard the Vostok 6 in 1963 she flew the flag for women and made history. Flying around space was not an obvious career path for Tereshkova -- her father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a cotton mill. Valentina herself worked in a factory before she made history by orbiting earth 48 times.
So what encouraged Valentina to go to space? She had no experience as a pilot but was accepted into the space program. It was her determination to beat four other women for the spot that got her to space following 18 long months of training and testing how she reacted to extreme gravity and zero gravity conditions.
If you are considering whether to explore a space-related career, there are plenty of other role models out there as well. Take some inspiration from these female space pioneers:
- Sally Ride – A female astronaut who was on the mission STS-7, a specialist who monitored control panels from her pilot's chair and the first American women in space.
- Kathryn Sullivan – Walking in space was one marvelous achievement for Kathryn. In October 1984 she walked and explored space on three shuttle missions and made it into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
- Anna Fisher- This lady was the first mother in space and helped with developments like the robotic arms used in space.
These are just some of the astro woman who have made history in space. Who knows if another space-diving astro woman could join their number in 2016.
Want to learn more about female space pioneers? Hear Gwynne Shotwell, President of Space X, speak at our next conference.
About the guest blogger: Jenny Beswick (@JennyBeswick) is currently a freelancer and consultant on engineering projects. Her first step into the field was through her Telegraph engineering job where she worked as an engineering assistant. Having worked in male-dominated jobs and survived, Jenny now encourages other women to get involved in these fields. Image credit: Cyril Attias via Flickr.