Anna Fisher

Anna Fisher is an American chemist and a NASA astronaut. She was born Anna Lee Tingle on August 24, 1949 in New York City. She grew up in San Pedro, California and graduated from San Pedro High School in 1967. She went on to attend the University of California Los Angeles, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1971. Fisher remained at UCLA to start graduate school in chemistry, focusing on x-ray crystallographic studies, and received her Doctorate of Medicine in 1976.  The following year she completed an internship at UCLA’s Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, California, where she specialized in emergency medicine.

In 1978, Fisher was selected as an astronaut candidate and became eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on space shuttle flight crews. After a year of basic training, she was selected to work on many tasks, including the development and testing of the Remote Manipulator System, the payload bay door contingency spacewalk procedures, and the verification of flight software at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. Fisher was a valuable part of the first nine STS missions. She worked as a crew representative and supporter for verification and development testing of STS-2, STS-3 and STS-4. For STS-5, STS-6, and STS-7, Fisher worked at Kennedy Space Center to support vehicle and payload testing. Additionally, Fisher supported each Orbital Flight Test as a physician and provided both operational and medical inputs in creating rescue procedures. Fisher was a CAPCOM for STS-9.

In 1983, Fisher gave birth to her first child. On November 8, 1984, Fisher became the first mother in space when she was launched into space aboard space shuttle Discovery as a mission specialist on STS-51A. The mission sent out two satellites, Telesat H and Syncom IV-1, and picked up two others, Palapa B-2 and Westar VI. On November 16, 1984 after almost 200 hours in space, the crew landed back at the Kennedy Space Center. Fisher’s next assignment was again as a mission specialist, this time on STS-61-H. However, after the space shuttle Challenger disaster, Fisher worked as the Deputy of the Mission Development branch of the Astronaut Office and as the Astronaut Office Representative for Flight Data File issues. She later went back to graduate school at UCLA while simultaneously holding a position on the Astronaut Selection Board for the astronauts of the Class of 1987. After she received her Master of Science in chemistry, she took an extended leave of absence to raise her family. She returned in 1996.

Fisher returned to NASA during the initial phase of constructing the International Space Station and served as the Chief of the Space Station branch. There she worked closely with international partners and supervisors to match inputs to the mechanisms of the space station. After her reorganization of the Astronaut office, she was chosen to work as the Deputy for Operations/Training of the Space Station Branch. Fisher has earned many awards, such as a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 1970, NASA Space Flight Medal, Lloyd’s of London Silver Medal for Meritorious Salvage Operations, Mother of the Year Award in 1984, California Science Center Woman of the year in 1986, UCLA Medical Professional Achievement Award, NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1999, and the UCLA Alumni of the Year Award in 2012. Fisher is currently working as an astronaut managing both the Capsule Communicator CAPCOM branch and the Exploration Branch.

Image Caption: Anna Lee Fisher. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia