(RepublicanView.org) – Mary Cleave, who was the first woman to fly in space after the 1986 explosion of the Challenger ship, has died at age 76.
Cleave was also NASA’s Science Mission Directorate’s associate administrator, a role she assumed in 2000. She was responsible for directing the daily operations of the agency. Cleave also coordinated NASA’s collaboration with global stakeholders in scientific discovery. She was praised for her dedication to science and exploration. Her cause of death has not been released.
Cleave made headlines when she first went to space in 1985. She was a crew member on the Atlantis space shuttle. They were on a mission to put several communication satellites into orbit. They also experimented with a new autopilot system and documented effective techniques for building and constructing a space station.
She returned to space in 1989, three years after the Challenger explosion, also on Atlantis. During the mission, Cleave and her crew completed the first mission ever to release a planetary probe in space directly from a shuttle. The probe successfully mapped 95% of the surface of Venus in 1990. They also conducted studies of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.
Cleave was born to two teachers in 1947 in Southampton, NY. She originally studied biological science at Colorado State University, where she graduated in 1969. She would later complete a master’s program in microbial ecology. She then chose a new direction for her doctoral studies after transferring to Utah State University. She earned doctorates in both civil and environmental engineering.
She was first recruited as an astronaut in 1980, five years before her first mission to space. She was honored with several awards during her tenure, including NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal and NASA Engineer of the Year. She retired in 2007. Cleave was considered a trailblazer in the industry.
Cleave leaves behind two children, both daughters. Her husband, fellow astronaut Michael Mullane, died before Cleave. Her private funeral was held in Annapolis, MD.
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