An all-women crew just finished an inaugural, two-week stint in a Mars habitat simulator as part of what is known as the Sensoria Space Program. It is the first of many female-led missions the new program is poised to host.
Six female scientists from different backgrounds gathered in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat to conduct research and communication training from January 4 to 18. The overall goal of the Sensoria Program is to provide training, professional development, and research experience to female-led and female-majority crews.
“While future Sensoria missions will welcome male researchers as well, we believe that women need to be placed at the center of our shared vision for space exploration, that women need to be given a platform for professional development, opportunities for research and training,”J.J. Hastings, the commander of Sensoria I, told Space.com.
The six researchers included Hastings, Erin Bonilla, Adriana Blachowicz, Makiah Eustice, Sian Proctor, and Maraia Hoffman, all of whom shared a 1,200-square-foot space.
Hastings told Space.com that the mission brought the women closer together as they worked on how to make the space sector more diverse in gender.
“What I find extraordinary is, as opposed to maybe a group of individuals who come in to endure two weeks together and move on, we’ve grown that much closer, which, to me, gives strength to the rationale behind the Sensoria Program to really bring incredibly talented, intelligent, extraordinary professionals in the space sector together to form even grander plans together,” she said.
According to space.com, of the 566 people who have flown into space so far, only 64 have been women, and of the 38 currently active NASA astronauts, only 12 of them are women.
Space is starting to get more female, though, and Sensoria is just one part of those efforts. In October 2019, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first all-female spacewalk outside of the International Space Station. The pair completed two more spacewalks together on January 15 and 20 of this year.
NASA also has plans to send more women into space, including landing the first woman on the moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program.
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