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Female shuttle commander leaves NASA

Eileen Collins, the first woman to act as shuttle commander, is leaving NASA to pursue other interests and spend more time with her family, according to an announcement by the space agency.

Eileen Collins
Credit: NASA
Eileen Collins

Collins is a pioneer in her field; she was the first woman to be selected as a pilot astronaut and the first woman to serve as a shuttle pilot. But she is best known for being the first woman to command a space shuttle, which she did in 2005, when she led the Discovery space shuttle on the first shuttle flight after the Columbia disaster two years prior. She has participated in four space missions and has logged nearly 900 hours in space.

"Eileen Collins is a living, breathing example of the best that our nation has to offer," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a statement.