“Eileen Collins is a living, breathing example of the best that our nation has to offer. She is, of course, a brave, superb pilot and a magnificent crew commander.” – Michael Griffin, Former NASA Administrator
(1956- ) Eileen Collins is a retired astronaut who was selected for the corps in 1990. She is also a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. She was the first female Space Shuttle pilot, flying Discovery for STS-63 in 1995. Then in 1999, she was the first female Space Shuttle commander, taking charge of Columbia. So fittingly, she was also commander for the return to flight after the Columbia tragedy. During this mission, she was the first pilot to ever have to perform a complete 360 degree pitch maneuver of the Space Shuttle. She retired in 2006 to pursue private interests.