Monday, June 18, 2012

A few female firsts

Liu Yang, 1st female Chinese Astronaut (1st image)
Air force pilot Liu Yang, 33, joined mission commander Jing Haipeng, 45, and crew mate Liu Wang, 43, in a rocket launched from the Gobi desert over the weekend to become China's 1st female astronaut. Their Shenzhou 9 capsule just docked with the country's module Tiangong 1 (they are excluded from the ISS), where they will spend the next 10 days orbiting, performing medical tests, conducting experiments, and preparing for a 60-ton permanent space station China hopes to launch in 2020. "Thank you for the confidence put in my by the motherland and the people, for giving me this chance to represent China's millions of women by going into space," Liu later told reporters at the launch center. She has been praised in state media for her nerves of steel, and the story is told of how she safely landed her fighter jet after a bird strike that left the cockpit glass covered with blood.

Sarah West, 1st female warship commander in Britain's Royal Navy (2nd image)
Lt. Commander Sarah West, 40, has taken command of the HMS Portland and its crew of 185, and hopes to achieve the rank of admiral. Armed with degrees in math and law, she earned the appointment by showing "leadership, confidence, moral courage, sound judgment and excellent people skills." West joined the navy in 1995 and trained on HMS Battleaxe before commanding 4 smaller vessels. She has earned praise for mastery of ships' weapons systems and skilled work on mine clearance off Iraq, and says, “Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Navy. It is a challenge that I am fully ready to undertake."

Inger Klein Olsen, 1st female captain of the Cunard line (3rd image)
Inger Klein Olsen, 43, assumed command of Queen Victoria in 2010, the 1st woman to captain a ship for the company in 170 years. Olsen had joined Cunard in 1997 as first officer on board Caronia, and had served on a number of ships within the Carnival Corporation group in the interim. Cunard's president Petesr Shanks commented, “While we are far from being the first shipping company to have a female Captain, it is nonetheless noteworthy when such a long-established British institution as Cunard makes a break with its ncaptaincy tradition. But as Mark Twain drily observed, 'The folks at Cunard wouldn't appoint Noah himself as Captain until he had worked his way up through the ranks.' Inger has certainly done that, and we are delighted to welcome her as our 1st woman driver.
More fearsome females in the Cabinet:

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