Shannon Lucid

Biography of Shannon Lucid the woman who has flown in space five times, including an extended mission aboard the Soviet Mir space station, in 1996.

She was the only American woman to serve aboard the Mir.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation

Shannon Lucid’s personal data

Mother of a family, married to Michael Lucid, they have two daughters and a son.

Shannon Lucid was born on January 14, 1943, in Shanghai, China, where her parents, Oscar and Myrtle Wells, were Baptist missionaries.

But, her habitual residence was in the city of Bethany (Oklahoma).

In 1960, after graduating from Bethany, she enrolled at the University of Oklahoma.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1963.

In 1969, she completed a Master in Biochemistry. Four years later, when she was 30 years old, she obtained a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Oklahoma.

University Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma. Credit: Michael Barera

Her professional experience was intense and varied from obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 1963 to her doctorate in 1973.

It is a clear example of her brilliant intellectual qualities and her entrepreneurial spirit.

Shannon Lucid’s Space Flights

Made 5 space trips. They were not space tourism trips, but very specialized work trips.

It is interesting to examine some differences between the journey of the first Russian woman to be launched into space and the first American woman to travel to a Space Station.

Nothing detracts from either of them, but circumstances had changed a lot in the 22 years between the two feats.

Valentina Tereshkova
She was born in 1937.
She studied Industrial Engineering.
She practiced skydiving.
It was selected in November 1962 and flew in March 1963.
I was single and 26 years old
The mission was prepared with absolute secrecy.
She was launched into space on a Vostok ship with room for herself.
During 3 days it circled the Earth 48 times.
She took pictures of the Earth’s atmosphere for scientific purposes.
She had a very bad time in her very narrow space capsule.
At the end of the mission, she parachuted as best she could.

Shannon Lucid
She was born in 1943.
Great specialist in Chemistry and Biochemistry.
It was selected in 1978 and flew in 1985.
She was the mother of 2 children, she was 42 years old.
The STS-51 mission was public and highly publicized.
She and others traveled to space on a space shuttle.
For 7 days it circled the Earth 112 times.
She did a lot of programmed experiments.
On the Space Station, they had certain amenities.
Upon returning from the mission, they landed at an Air Force Base.

Shannon Lucid’s professional experiences

Teaching Assistant, in the Department of Chemistry, University of Oklahoma, from 1963 to 1964;
Senior Laboratory Technician,Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 1964-1966;
Chemistry at the Kerr-McGee Company, Oklahoma, 1966-1968;
Assistant to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, from 1969 to 1973;
Research associate at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma, from 1974 until she was selected for the astronaut training program.

Shannon Lucid selected to be an astronaut

In 1978, NASA promoted several female candidates in response to the new anti-discrimination laws of the time.

That same year Lucid was selected to be part of the Astronaut Corps.

Of the six women in this first group of future female astronauts, Shannon Lucid was the only one who was a mother at the time of her selection.

Shannon Lucid in 1978
Shannon Lucid in 1978. Credit: NASA

Shannon Lucid travels to space for the first time

Lucid’s first spaceflight was on June 17, 1985, on the STS-51-G mission of the space shuttle Discovery.

Two years earlier, another woman, Sally Ride, had also traveled into space. Subsequently, she flew four other missions in space. STS (Space Transportation System)

The STS-51-G Discovery, carried a crew of 7 people: commander, pilot, 3 scientific specialists and 2 cargo specialists.

It was a 7 day mission; during that time they circled the Earth 112 times, at an average altitude of 387 km.

The crew deployed communications satellites for Mexico, the Arab League and the United States. One of the crew was the grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia.

Spacecraft crew on Mission STS-51
Spacecraft crew on Mission STS-51-G. Credit: NASA

They conducted 17 hours of astronomy and X-ray experiments.

Additionally, the crew activated the Automated Directional Solidification Furnace, and various biomedical experiments.

The landing was at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Air force base
Edwards Air Force Base is in California and houses the school for test pilots. Credit: Edwards Air Force Base

Shannon Lucid’s second space expedition

Four years later, she was designated to fly into space on STS-34 Atlantis, from October 18 to October 23, 1989.

The crew consisted of 5 people: Commander, Pilot and 3 Specialists.

crew sts34
Shannon Lucid with her four companions from Mission STS-34. Credit: NASA

It was a 5-day mission, during which the crew deployed the Galileo space probe, which undertook a journey to Jupiter.

The crew operated the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument to map atmospheric ozone.

They also conducted secondary experiments that included:

  • radiation measurements,
  • polymer morphology,
  • lightning research,
  • microgravity effects on plants,
  • an experiment proposed by students, on the formation of ice crystals in space. It is clear that it was not “space tourism”, but specialized and potentially very risky work.

It was obviously not “space tourism“, but rather specialized and potentially very risky work.

Atlantis made 79 orbits around Earth, in 119 hours and 41 minutes. The landing was made at Edwards Air Force Base.

Shannon Lucid’s third spaceflight

Two years later, Shannon was re-appointed to the 5-person crew on another space mission, STS-43 Atlantis, from August 2 to August 11, 1991.

Satellite
During Mission STS-43, the crew of the ship carried out the deployment of a satellite. Credit: NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center

On this occasion, the mission lasted 9 days, during which the crew deployed the fifth Data Tracking Satellite.

In addition, she performed 32 material physics and medicine experiments.

They described 142 orbits around the Earth, in 213 hours and 21 minutes.

STS-43 Atlantis was the eighth space shuttle to land at the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

Shannon Lucid’s fourth spaceflight

Two years later, Shannon joined a 7-member crew on another mission, STS-58 Columbia, from October 18 to November 1, 1993.

It was a 14 day mission; a record duration that was the most successful and efficient Spacelab project flight ever conducted.

The team of 5 specialists conducted medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, to expand the understanding of the physiological effects during space flights.

In addition, they conducted 16 engineering tests aboard the Columbia and 20 medical experiments.

Columbia made 225 orbits around the Earth, for 336 hours, 13 minutes.

The landing was made at Edwards Air Force Base.

By completing this flight, Shannon Lucid had already logged a total of 838 hours and 54 minutes in space.

Shannon Lucid’s fifth space mission

The last space mission Lucid participated in was STS-76 Columbia.

She did so after a year of training in Star City, Russia. Atlantis lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on March 22, 1996.

After docking in space to the Mir Space Station, Shannon went to it, to integrate with the Russian crew.

Shannon Lucid and plants
Shannon Lucid was in charge of checking the growth of wheat plants, aboard the MIR. Credit: NASA

Assigned as Dashboard Engineer 2, she conducted numerous life science and physical science experiments during the course of her stay aboard the Mir.

She made her return trip to the Kennedy Space Center aboard STS-79 Atlantis on September 26, 1996.

Upon completing this mission, Shannon Lucid had traveled through space for 188 days, 4 hours, 0 minutes, and 14 seconds.

With this mission, she broke all the space records made by a woman.

After these feats, NASA named her NASA Chief Scientist; and she carried out the planning and control of many other missions that followed her.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation

On January 31, 2012, Shannon Lucid requested her retirement from NASA.

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