Today for National Astronaut Day I certainly want to celebrate Astronaut Janice Voss.
Astronaut Janice Voss was chosen in 1990 and flew on a total of 5 space shuttle missions as a Mission Specialist. She jointly holds the record for most spaceflights for a woman.
I met Astronaut Janice Voss in what was for me, a very memorable way. I was in Houston with Purdue University for the KC-125 College Student Flight Program. STS-83 had just landed after some issues after just 4 days. The crew returned to Ellington Field where we were at for work on our experiments before flying on The Vomit Comet. We all went out to the flightline to see the astronauts come in. Needless to say – we were in awe! (And no it was not just me – the guys who were on my team were too!) We were having a Purdue Alumni dinner the next night and I was just crazy enough to, when I got the chance to meet her, ask Janice if she would like to join us. Imagine my amazement when she said yes!
I had the honor of sitting next to her at dinner (it was at Pappasito’s by the way – my first time ever there… perhaps that’s why it’s my favorite restaurant!) and I tried not to talk her ear off too much or ask her too many questions. She was so incredibly gracious and more than willing to answer my questions but also did a lot of inquiring about me. She asked if I had ever seen a launch and I admitted I hadn’t, though I’d made several attempts… My mom and I had tried a couple times and I tried with the Purdue SEDS team once. When she learned that I would be working at Space Camp in Florida that summer she very matter if factly said something along the lines of “well then here’s your chance!” Her preflight of STS-83 (STS-94) was to fly that summer.
She made good on that comment and sent me launch passes and thanks to Astronaut Janice Voss I got to see my very first launch. I will forever be grateful to her for that!
(Sorry I don’t have many pictures to include with this but they are packed away and I can’t find them at the moment! Will have to find and post later!)
She did sign this picture for me that evening at Pappasito’s and I even still have (somewhere!) the receipt from dinner because I insisted on buying because I wanted to be able to say I’d bought an astronaut dinner!
So on all days but especially today I celebrate Astronaut Janice Voss. Though she is not with us anymore, I thank you Janice for taking the time to talk with a bright-eyed college girl with big space dreams. Thank you for taking an interest in me and my path in the space world. And thank you so much for making sure my first launch experience was truly unforgettable!