16. Anna Lee Fisher
Though Anna Lee Fisher is often cited as the first mother in space, this particular aspect of her life shouldn’t overshadow the many other accomplishments she’s achieved. Fisher, who was part of the first astronaut group that officially selected female candidates, is an accomplished physician and scientist in her own right.
After an undergraduate and graduate career that focused on chemistry, Fisher moved to Los Angeles, where she received her doctor of medicine degree from the UCLA medical school. She then decided to focus on emergency medicine, an intense, fast-paced career that likely taught her a calmness and grace under fire so necessary of astronauts.
Fisher was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978, completing her training the following year. During her time at NASA, Fisher worked on the early “Canadarm” robot arm, which was later installed on the space shuttle. She also worked on spacewalk procedures, spacesuits, and development testing for spaceflight software.
She eventually flew into space on STS-51-A, which deployed two communications satellites and retrieved two more which had failed to operate properly in outer space. Fisher was set to return to orbit on STS-61-H as a mission specialist but was grounded with all other astronauts following the Challenger disaster. She has since continued work for NASA on the ground, working in CAPCOM (capsule communications) and on displays for the Orion spacecraft project.