NASA Chief: A Woman Will 'Likely' Be First Person on Mars

Mars

A small step for woman, a giant leap for womankind.

These are the words that may be uttered by the first astronaut on Mars, who the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration says is "likely to be a woman."

Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, teased the news on the radio show Science Friday. However, he did not name any names of the potentially herstory-making person.

Responding to a related question on Twitter, Bridenstine said women will "absolutely" be on the next trip to the moon — and a woman will likely be the next person to walk on it.

"These are great days," he said.

Half of NASA's 2013 astronaut class were women and 50 percent of flight directors from the most recent class are female, reports CNN. In total, 34 percent of astronauts are women.

Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride was also a lesbian — her 2012 obituary mentioned her partner of over two decades, Tam O'Shaughnessy — but was not out in her lifetime.

It merits noting that Bridenstine, who was confirmed by the Senate as NASA administrator last April, had an intensely anti-LGBTQ record as a congressman from Oklahoma. In the past, he frequently spoke out against marriage equality and even once proposed impeaching Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, because Holder ceased defending the Defense of Marriage Act. 

However, Bridenstine did recognize Pride Month at NASA last year — unlike the man who nominated him, President Donald Trump. 

Tags: Women, NASA

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