Anne McClain. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

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b. June 7, 1979

“There are no average days or normal days in outer space.”

Anne McClain is a former NASA astronaut and U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served as flight engineer for Expeditions 58/59 to the International Space Station. She is the second LGBTQ person to become an American astronaut.

Born and raised in Spokane, Washington, McClain dreamed of becoming an astronaut from an early age. She graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. She earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Bath and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Bristol, where she was a Marshall Scholar. A competitive athlete, she played rugby for the Women’s Premiership in England and for the U.S.A. Rugby Women’s National Team.

Following her studies, McClain joined the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot, rising through the ranks to detachment commander. She served 15 months in Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying more than 216 combat missions as pilot-in-command. In 2010 McClain was appointed commander of C Troop, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment, responsible for the Army’s initial entry training, instructor pilot training and maintenance test pilot training in the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. During her military service, she logged more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft.

In 2013 McClain was selected as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class, becoming the youngest astronaut on NASA’s roster. The selection made her the second gay American astronaut after Sally Ride and the first out active NASA astronaut. In 2015 McClain completed the rigorous candidate training process, including scientific and technical training, physiological training, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks and robotics, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training.

From December 2018 to June 2019, McClain served as flight engineer on NASA Expedition 58/59 to the International Space Station. The flight launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. McClain was one of three crew members on the expedition, along with Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko. McClain and the crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science, including investigations into small devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs, editing DNA in space for the first time, and recycling 3D-printed material. McClain conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 8 minutes. She returned to earth after spending 204 days in space.

McClain resides in Houston, Texas. She has a six-year-old son, Briggs.

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