U.S. Astronaut Janice Voss, 55, Loses Cancer Battle

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NASA astronaut Janice Voss, a veteran of five spaceflights and a former science director of the U.S. space agency’s Kepler exoplanet-hunting spacecraft, died Feb. 6 after a battle with cancer. She was 55.

Chosen by NASA for the astronaut corps in 1990, Voss served as mission specialist on five space shuttle missions between 1993 and 2000. Her missions included the flight of the first Spacehab commercial module, a rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir, and the creation of the most complete digital topographic map of the Earth.

Four years after her final space shuttle mission, Voss transferred from Johnson Space Center in Houston to the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., where she headed the science program for the Kepler space observatory. She left Ames in 2007 and most recently served as the payload lead in the astronaut office’s space station branch at Johnson.

A native of Rockford, Ill., Voss earned a bachelor of science in engineering from Purdue University in 1975, a master of science in electrical engineering and a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977 and 1987, respectively.

Before becoming an astronaut, Voss worked for Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp., supporting mission integration and flight operations for the Transfer Orbit Stage that launched the Ka-band Advanced Communications Technology Satellite from the space shuttle in 1993, and NASA’s ill-fated Mars Observer from a Titan rocket in 1992.