Kilrain Was the Youngest Person to Pilot a Space Shuttle

Susan Kilrain, an aerospace engineer and former NASA astronaut, will join the roster of preeminent speakers at the National Space Society’s 2024 International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®).

Kilrain flew on the space shuttle twice and was the second woman to pilot the vehicle. Her first flight was on STS-83 in 1997, followed by STS-94 later that same year. Prior to her career with NASA, she was a U.S. Navy aviator, logging over 3000 flight hours in 30 different aircraft. Of her time in the Navy, Kilrain reflects: “I realized that I was a woman in a man’s world, so I was going to be an outsider. My whole philosophy was not to make waves. My goal was to be an astronaut. I wanted to fit in without accepting unacceptable behavior.” She is a frequent motivational speaker and an advocate for women in STEM. After her shuttle flights she served as a legislative specialist for the space shuttle for the Office of Legislative Affairs at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

NSS CEO Anita Gale, also an advocate for women in STEM careers, said, “We’re proud to have Susan join us for the ISDC. Having worked as an aerospace engineer in what was then considered a man’s world, I have a keen appreciation of her accomplishments as an engineer and astronaut. Women like her have a strong message for kindred spirits everywhere, and the ISDC is a prime venue for her to spread the messages of diversity and inclusion to young people.”

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