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Janice Voss, shuttle astronaut, remembered for NASA contributions

Janice Voss began her NASA career while still a student at Purdue University. Janice Voss was one of six women to fly at least five times on the space shuttle.

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Voss' two other spaceflights, STS-83 and STS-94, were the only time in the shuttle program's history that an entire crew was launched twice to achieve the same mission. The crew's first attempt began with a liftoff on Columbia on April 4, 1997. Three days into the mission however, a problem with one of the orbiter's three power-generating fuel cells resulted in the flight being cut short and the crew members returning to Earth.

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Three months later with Columbia back in working order, Voss and her six STS-83 crewmates launched again, this time as the STS-94 crew. During the successful 15-day flight, Voss and her fellow fliers worked inside a European Spacelab module, conducting experiments as part of the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

In total, Voss logged over 49 days in space, traveling 18.8 million miles (30.3 million km) while circling the Earth 779 times. Her five missions tied her with the record for the most spaceflights by a woman.

Four years after returning to Earth for a final time, Voss transferred from Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., where she headed the science program for the agency's Kepler space observatory. Designed to search for Earth size planets orbiting distant stars, Kepler was launched in March 2009 and to date has confirmed 61 exoplanets and identified more than 2,000 planetary candidates.

Voss left Ames in 2007 and most recently served as the payload lead in the astronaut office's space station branch at the Johnson Space Center.

"As the payload commander of two space shuttle missions, Janice was responsible for paving the way for experiments that we now perform on a daily basis on the International Space Station," chief astronaut Peggy Whitson said in the NASA statement. "By improving the way scientists are able to analyze their data, and establishing the experimental methods and hardware necessary to perform these unique experiments, Janice and her crew ensured that our space station would be the site of discoveries that we haven't even imagined."

"During the last few years, Janice continued to lead our office's efforts to provide the best possible procedures to crews operating experiments on the station today," she said. "Even more than Janice's professional contributions, we will miss her positive outlook on the world and her determination to make all things better."

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