Former space shuttle commander to speak at ECU

The first woman to pilot and command an American spacecraft will present the Voyages of Discovery Space Exploration Lecture at 7 p.m., Nov. 13, in Wright Auditorium.


Sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the ECU Space Grant Project, Col. Eileen Collins will discuss “Leadership Lesson from Apollo to Discovery.”

Collins has led a life of leadership and achievement. Her dream of becoming a pilot developed during her early childhood, and she first learned to fly at her local airport in Elmira, N.Y. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1978, Collins entered the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program, where she discovered an even more ambitious and loftier dream to become an astronaut.

Her dream became a reality in 1991 when she joined the astronaut program. In 1995, she flew on her first shuttle mission on STS-63 Discovery, becoming the first woman to pilot a space shuttle. In 1999, aboard STS-93 Columbia, Collins hit another milestone when she became the first woman to command a shuttle mission.

In July 2005, Collins flew her final NASA mission as commander of STS-114 Discovery’s historic ‘Return to Flight’ mission following the 2003 loss of the shuttle Columbia. A veteran of four space flights, Collins has logged more than 872 hours in space.

Upon receiving the National Space Trophy, Collins spoke of a new dream. She said that “people will discover and invent new ways to fly higher, faster and farther, and that someday humans will travel beyond our solar system. It will be expensive, it will be risky, and we will make mistakes as we go. But we will do it because we are explorers by nature.”

For more information about the lecture series, contact Dr. John A. Tucker, series director, at 252-328-1028 or or visit the website at

The series will continue in 2013 with two presentations: the Jarvis Lecture on Christianity and Culture, featuring Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, on March 5; and the joint Thomas Harriot/Lawrence F. Brewster Lecture in History, featuring Dr. Daniel Richter, on March 21.

Complimentary tickets for Collins’ space lecture are available to ECU students, faculty and staff members with a valid ECU ID. Tickets for the general public are $10; call the ECU Central Ticket Office at 252-328-4788 or 1-800-ECU-ARTS.