Here are 20 Female Astronauts You Should Definitely Know

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9. Roberta Bondar

A casual glance at the history of human spaceflight may lead you to believe that it’s populated solely by American and Russian astronauts. However, you’d be wrong. The human population of outer space is growing increasingly diverse. While, as this list clearly shows you, women are gaining more and more of a foothold in all space programs, so are people of different nationalities. A visit to the ISS might put you in contact with astronauts from, yes, the U.S. and Russia, but also Israel, South Korea, France, China, and more.

Roberta Bondar was one of the early non-American or non-Russian astronauts to join the effort in space. She’s Canada’s first female astronaut, as well as the first neurologist in space. In fact, she’s spent more than a decade as NASA’s head of space medicine, an especially important field given NASA’s growing interest in long-term spaceflight. The effects of radiation, zero gravity, and more on a human body will prove to be incredibly relevant data for future missions.

Bondar holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology and agriculture, along with a Master of Science in experimental pathology. She earned her doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Toronto, as well as a Doctor of Medicine from McMaster University. She was a neurology fellow at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, beginning in 1981. She’s also a certified skydiver and parachutist, as well as a respected nature photographer.

Oh, and all of this happened before she became a NASA astronaut. Bondar began her astronaut training in 1984 and flew her first mission, STS-42, in 1992. During her time as a lead researcher at NASA, she examined the effects of spaceflight on the human body, especially its ability to recover from long-term stints in space.