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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 17:21 EDT

NASA Astronaut Janice Voss Loses Battle Against Breast Cancer

February 8, 2012

Former NASA astronaut Janice E. Voss, one of a few women who ever got to fly in space, died Monday night after a battle with breast cancer, Purdue University said in a press release Tuesday.

Voss, 55, a native of South Bend, Indiana, joined NASA as a teenager while attending Purdue in 1973, where she received her bachelor´s degree in engineering science. She also received a doctorate in aeronautics at MIT. She became an astronaut in 1991, launching into space for the first time just two years later.

Voss logged five space missions with NASA, spending a total of 49 days in orbit and traveling 18.8 million miles, circumnavigating the Earth 779 times. She partook in space missions in 1993 and 1995, two in 1997, and a final mission in 2000, where she spent 11 days with fellow astronauts mapping more than 47 million square miles of the planet´s land surface.

After hanging up her space gear, Voss continued to work at NASA on payload issues, and used her cachet as an astronaut to encourage students to study science and math.

NASA said Voss is one of only six women who have flown in space at least five times.

Plans for her memorial service are underway.

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports