WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Purdue graduate Janice Voss, one of the few women launched into space, died on Monday, February 6 of breast cancer.
55-year-old Voss died in Scottsdale, Arizona where she was receiving treatment.
Voss has logged five space flights, spending a total of 49 days in space and traveling 18.8 million miles in 779 Earth orbits.
In 2000, Voss led the payload efford for NASA's station integration branch of the astronaut office, with a focus on the international space station.
When asked what she thought people would recall about her era in space, she stated: "I think the world will see 2001 as a major turning point in history, the time when our space odyssey took off. That is when we began having people in space continuously for an entire year, with our shuttle flights and the international space station."
Voss was born October 8, 1956, in South Bend, Indiana, but considered Rockford, Illinois her hometown. Indiana, though, also was close to her heart, drawing her to frequently visit the family farm in Dupont in the southeast corner of the state.
Voss earned her bachelor's degree in engineering science in 1975 from Purdue and her doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Purdue often invited her back to campus, which she said was the reason she gave her memorabilia to the Purdue Library's Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives.
"I was very honored, impressed" to have been asked back often and to donate to the archives, she said. "Purdue has always made its astronauts feel like they are a special part of its family."
She became an astronaut in 1991, one of 23 Purdue graduates NASA has selected for space flight.
Her first flight was aboard the STS57 for 10 days in 1993. She was also part of space missions in 1995, two in 1997 and the last in 2000. The last mission was an 11-day flight during which the international crew aboard shuttle Endeavour mapped more than 47 million square miles of the Earth's land surface.
In her first flight on the shuttle Endeavour in 1993, Voss supervised 22 experiments in the SPACEHAB, the world's first commercial laboratory module in space.
She operated Discovery's robot arm in 1995. She was payload commander in charge of 33 experiments on Columbia, which went into space twice because of technical problems in 1997. She served as payload commander in 2000 during her final flight on Endeavour.
Plans for a memorial service are pending.
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