1st Female Shuttle Pilot Inducted into Hall of Fame

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Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command the space shuttle, entered the ranks of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame wearing the same two-piece blue suit she wore to her astronaut selection interview nearly 25 years ago.

“It is really old and it is little bit tighter on me, but it is the same suit I wore for the interview and I saved it,” Collins told reporters April 20, just before attending the ceremony that saw her and her fellow astronauts Curt Brown and Bonnie Dunbar enshrined into the Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. “It is as close to ‘NASA blue’ as I could find at the time.”

The 12th group of space shuttle veterans to be inducted into the Hall, the 2013 class was the first to include more women than men. Collins and Dunbar, the latter a mission specialist and payload commander who flew five times to space, were honored just two months shy of the 30-year anniversary of the first U.S. woman flying in space, the late Sally Ride, who was inducted in 2003.

Two dozen of the Hall of Fame’s previous honorees turned out to welcome Brown, Collins and Dunbar into their ranks, including Apollo moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, first shuttle pilot Robert Crippen and astronaut Charles Bolden, who today serves as NASA administrator.