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Determination and patience reward CNY's women astronauts

All eyes might be gearing up for the total solar eclipse next week, but Central New Yorkers have had another reason to be focused on space. CNY Native and astronaut Dr. Jeanette Epps has been aboard the International Space Station for nearly a month, becoming the 76th woman to fly to space. Syracuse University Professor and former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe says astronauts like Epps go through rigorous training and get acquainted with other astronauts well in advance of any mission.

“It’s an important relationship that they really spend a lot of time making sure it gels and works well with each crew going forward, particularly on something like the International Space Station," O'Keefe said. "Holy Cow. You’ll be at it for six months at a clip and you’re in a laboratory environment like that is comparatively smaller than anything else you would deal with here on earth.”

Epps is an alum of Corcoran High School and Le Moyne College. O’Keefe says her contributions continue the legacy of another famous and local astronaut, Colonel Eileen Collins from Elmira and a Syracuse University alum. He says both have excelled in the aerospace community.

“And that’s a lot of what I think so many of the women in the astronaut corps have demonstrated is you could do that, you can achieve this," O'Keefe said. "Seeing what Eileen accomplished in her time, what Jeanette is accomplishing now, those are the kinds of things that this was an aspiration they've harbored for a long time, and they knew it would take awhile."

O’Keefe adds both women also knew the field they were getting into would take a lot of proficiency and patience. You can hear more of his interview in our “Women In Space” segment on the next Syracuse Speaks Women’s History Month Special this Thursday from 2 to 3 PM.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.