Eileen Collins has had a groundbreaking career in both the United States Air Force and NASA. She went from being one of four women chosen for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base to becoming the second ever female pilot to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.
She was chosen for the NASA astronaut program in 1990, fulfilling a lifelong dream. But Eileen’s achievements only grew from there as she shattered the glass ceiling of space exploration, becoming not only the first American woman to pilot a space mission but also the first to command one.
Eileen’s final mission saw her command NASA’s long anticipated return to space following the Columbia disaster. Since then, Eileen has continued her work with NASA (from the ground) as well as having raised her two children with husband Pat Youngs.
The Covid-19 lockdown allowed for Collins to finally have the time to write her long awaited memoir Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars. Through countless virtual meetings with her co-writer Jonathan H. Ward, she was able to put pen to paper and officially record what has truly been a remarkable career.
Taking time out from her busy schedule of virtual book tour promotions, Eileen recently spoke to Irish America’s Róisín Chapman about not only her new book and impressive career but also her Irish heritage, family and what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.♦