SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Three, two, one, blast off! NASA’s first female shuttle commander took “one giant leap” to a local Girl Scouts summer camp Thursday in hopes of inspiring young women to pursue careers in the space program.
“I think kids are going to want to grow up to be what they see and what they’re exposed to,” said retired Col. Eileen Collins, which is why she enjoys talking to children.
Eleven-year-old Sylvia Hernandez certainly was inspired by Collins’ presentation at the West Side Girl Scouts Leadership Center during the Metro Camp’s Space Odyssey Week.
“It was very interesting to learn about her experiences as an astronaut. I think it’d be pretty cool if I were to become an astronaut some day,” Hernandez told KTSA News. Collins told the girls her experience in the Girl Scouts as a child helped her in her military career.
As the nation celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing, Collins is excited that NASA is planning to send a woman to the moon in the very near future.
“What NASA’s doing now is they’re building a giant rocket, called the Space Launch System, which will take astronauts back to the moon. They’re talking 2024 and the first woman will go to the moon,” said Collins.
She retired when NASA retired the shuttle program, so she won’t be going to the moon, but she’s glad they’re finally sending a woman.
“A lot of people don’t know that 12 men walked on the moon, but no woman has walked on the moon,” she said.
She also welcomes Elon Musk’s space exploration ideas. While some think his plans are controversial, Collins says Musk is a partner that “we need at Nasa.” Musk recently announced that the super heavy megabooster, which will launch SpaceX’s Starship passenger vehicle toward Mars and the moon, will feature 35 Raptor engines.
“He is trying to do the impossible. You’ve got to be able to dream the impossible to even get close,” she said.
Collins lives with her family in San Antonio. She’s from upstate New York, but her husband is a San Antonio native. Before she met him, she fell in love with our city.
“When I joined the Air Force, my first assignment was at Lackland Air Force Base, and I also had an assignment at Randolph. I remember thinking back in those days, ‘I really love this town. Maybe I’ll meet a guy from here and I’ll marry him.’ And I did,” she said. Their 18-year-old son recently graduated from Central Catholic High School.