Former astronaut, Janice Voss, passed away from breast cancer late Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Voss was one of only six women to make five trips into space and to serve twice as payload commander. She was 55.
Voss' career at NASA was one of dedication to scientific research and exploration. She spent more than 49 days total in orbit between 1993 and 2000 and traveled over 18.8 million miles in 779 Earth orbits.
As the payload commander of two space shuttle missions, Janice was responsible for paving the way for experiments that we now perform on a daily basis on the International Space Station, Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office, said in a statement.
By improving the way scientists are able to analyze their data and establishing the experimental methods and hardware necessary to perform these unique experiments, Janice and her crew ensured that our space station would be the site of discoveries that we haven't even imagined, she continued.
Voss began working at NASA in 1973, while she was still a student at Purdue University. She returned to NASA to teach navigation and entry guidance to space shuttle crews. She completed her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and then worked within the aerospace industry. She was selected by NASA in 1990 and became an astronaut in 1991. During her time as an astronaut, Voss received many special honors, including four NASA Space Flight Medals, the Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship (1982), the Howard Hughes Fellowship (1981) and the National Science Foundation Fellowship (1976).
Her last mission in space was in 2000, when she helped mapped more than 47-million square-miles of Earth's land surface in high resolution from the STS-99. From 2004 to 2007, Voss worked as the science director at the Kepler spacecraft at NASA's Ames Research center.
During the last few years, Janice continued to lead our office's efforts to provide the best possible procedures to crews operating experiments on the station today, Whitson added. Even more than Janice's professional contributions, we will miss her positive outlook on the world and her determination to make all things better.