Head of NASA Says First Person on Mars Will Likely Be a Woman

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In a recent statement, Jim Bridenstine, head of NASA, said that the first on Mars is “likely to be a woman”. While the NASA chief did not identify a specific person, he did say that women will be at the forefront of the agency’s future space plans.

During a guest appearance on science and technology radio show, Science Friday, Bridenstine discussed the future of space exploration, alluding to the fact that women will be playing a much more pivotal role in the agency’s upcoming space missions.

In addition to the Mars statement, Bridenstine said if all goes to plan, the next American astronaut to return to the moon will also be a woman.
During the talk show appearance, which coincided with International Women’s Day (March 7) a Twitter user asked whether women will be included in the agency’s next trip to the moon, to which Bridenstine responded “absolutely”. This will mark the first time American astronauts have returned to the moon since 1972, and will be the first time a woman will be on the moon.

“These are great days,” Bridenstine said. “We have the first all-female spacewalk happening this month at the end of March, which is of course, National Women’s Month.”

This spacewalk mission, called Expedition 59, is scheduled for March 29, and will include American astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch, and Jackie Kagey as the lead spacewalk flight controller. According to NASA’s website, the spacewalk will last around seven hours, and serve as an important training exercise for future missions.

The first six women joined NASA’s Astronaut Corps back in 1978, but today, women comprise of 34% percent of NASA’s total active astronauts, according to agency data. The most recent class of flight directors was also be comprised of 50% women, with both of these figures expected to rise in the coming years.

“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” Bridenstine said.

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