Marianne J. Dyson

FAO Marianne Dyson
Marianne Dyson STS-4 Entry Team FAO

NASA's First Women Flight Controllers

Johnson Space Center, Houston

I generated the list below as part of my book: A Passion for Space. The list is based on personal interviews and NASA press releases of Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) staffing from Gemini 4 through the 25th Space Shuttle flight (i.e. 51-L, the Challenger disaster). The only Skylab data found was for number 4, the third manned flight. I did not include any ground tests or the Shuttle Approach and Landing tests (1977) because staffing charts were not available. I also didn't include a list of women who worked as flight controllers in support positions, but as more information becomes available, I hope to add such a list in the future.

This list does NOT include launch controllers at Kennedy Space Center. The International Women's Air & Space museum lists JoAnn Morgan as the first woman launch controller.

Some positions were listed on the staffing charts as being in the MOCR, but were later moved to a support room or folded into some other position. Any position listed as being a MOCR position was "counted" (such as Aero and Command) as long as it was on the published staffing chart. For women who worked the same flight, the Ascent Team members are listed ahead of the other teams, and otherwise, in alphabetical order by last name. Most women worked multiple flights, but are only listed for their first appearance in the “front” room.

Women Flight/Mission Controllers

    Gemini & Apollo to 1972

  • None identified.

    Skylab 1973-74

  • 1. Carolyn L. Huntoon - (Medical) Experiments, Skylab 4

    Apollo-Soyuz 1975

  • None identified.

    Skylab Reentry 1979

  • 1. Bonnie J. Dunbar - Guidance, Navigation, and Control
  • 2. Cindy Major - Guidance, Navigation, and Control
  • 3. Debbie Pawkett - ASCO=ATMDC (Apollo Telescope Mount Digital Camera) Software Control Officer

    Space Shuttle

  • 1. Sharon R. Tilton - Surgeon, STS-1 (Ascent team)
  • 2. Lizabeth (Betsy) H. Cheshire - Computer Command (MOCR position STS-1 & 2), STS-1 (Entry team)
  • 3. Anngienetta (Angie) R. Johnson - Payloads, STS-2 (Ascent team). First black woman.
  • 4. Linda G. Horowitz - Aerodynamics (MOCR position STS 1-5), STS-2 (Orbit team)
  • 5.* Sally K. Ride - Capcom, STS-2 (Orbit team)
  • 6. Carolynn L. Conley - FAO, STS-3 (Ascent team)
  • 7. Ellen L. Schulman - Surgeon, STS-3 (Ascent team)
  • 8. Marianne J. Dyson - FAO, STS-4 (Entry team)
  • 9. Jenny Howard - Booster, STS-5 (Orbit team)
  • 10. Carolyn H. Blacknall - OIO, STS-5 (Entry team)
  • 11. Mary L. Cleave - Capcom, STS-6 (Planning team)
  • 12. Kathryn A. Havens - Upper Stage (MOCR position STS-6), STS-6 (Planning team)
  • 13. Cheevon (Mi-Mi) B. Lau - FAO, STS-6 (Entry team)
  • 14. Debbie T. Pawkett - Payloads, STS-7 (Orbit team)
  • 15. Gayle K. Weber - Guidance, STS-7 (Planning team)
  • 16. Michele A. Brekke - Payloads, STS-8 (Orbit 1 team)
  • (No new firsts on STS-9, STS-41-B, or STS-41-C)
  • 17. Linda M. Godwin, Payloads, STS-41-D
  • 18. Karen F. Ehlers - FAO, STS-41G (13) (Planning team)
  • 19. Barbara N. Pearson - EECOM, STS-41G (13) (Planning team)
  • 20. Linda P. Patterson - GNC, STS-51A (14)
  • (Missing data for DOD flight STS-51-C, no new firsts on STS-51-D)
  • 21. Diane L. Freeman – FAO, STS- 51-B (Orbit 2)
  • 22. Linda J. Hautzinger (Ham) – Prop, STS-51-B (Orbit 2)
  • 23. Sharon B. Castle – Payloads, STS-51-B (Orbit 3)
  • 24. Billie Deason - PAO, STS-51-G
  • 25. Janet K. Ross - PAO, STS-51-G
  • 26. Patricia A. Santy – Surgeon, STS-51-F
  • 27. Barbara A. Schwartz - FAO, STS-51-I
  • 28. Karen M. Alig (Engelauf)- FAO, STS-51-J
  • 29. Shannon W. Lucid – Capcom, STS-61-A (D1) (Orbit 1)
  • 30. Kathy V. Cannon – Payloads, STS-61-A (D1) (Orbit 3)
  • 31. Anne F. Ellis – FAO, 61A (D1) (Orbit 3)
  • (No new firsts on STS-61-B or STS-51-L)
    * I mistakenly listed Janis Plesums as #5, but Janis (pronounced Yaw ness) is a man.

Author's note: I invite any of you who participated in the early space program with information about women in flight control to contact me. I'd love to hear more about the historical contributions of women, and would also appreciate scans of any photos!

1981 Mission Operations Women

1981 Mission Operations Women L to R, Row 1: Robin Cobbs, E.M. Eav, Rowena Burns, Maridene Lemmon, Iva Doyle, Monica Davis, Mindy J. Cohen, Cadie Howard; Row 2: Anne Fox, Elaine Hilliard, Marianne Dyson, Anne Flippin, Panna Amin, Ann Johnson, Delores A. Couch, Teresa McDonald, Sandi Kovar, Anne Accola; Row 3: Carolynn Conley, Helen Meester, Eva Hernandez, Maria Garza, Carmen Cruz, Pat Engel, Sharon C. Conover, Karen Flanagan, Georgie Huepers; Row 4: Marie Gibson, Nina J. Weaver, Irma Cortez, Sara Beck, Pearline Collector, Nancy Harris, Patsy Smith, Susan Wilson, Mary Barth; Row 5: M. Edson, M.E. Mabry, Ruth Ann Brinkworth, Barbara Hopkins, Dianne Murphy, H.A. Barnes, Terry Stanford, Kathie Abotteen, Michele Brekke, Alice Van Gilder, Ceevon (Mi-Mi) Lau, Dianna Watson, Cynthia Nagy.
Click for list with job descriptions Row1-4 Row 5

1982 JSC Systems Division

JSC Systems Division © NASA
L to R, 1-18 front row, 19-34, 35-48, 49-67, 68-101 back row Click for names by numbers

MORE INFO - International Women's Air & Space Museum


Like many girls in the 60s, I dreamed of a job like Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on Star Trek. (NASA photo)


Carolyn Huntoon, the only woman in this photo of Skylab scientists, was the first woman flight controller. I could not find any photos of her on console. (NASA photo) Click to see larger image.

STS-1, April 1981

Liz Cheshire was Computer Command for STS-1. DPS Randy Stone and Astronaut Dick Truly in foreground. (NASA photo)

This STS-1 Ascent Team photo shows some of the women who served in support room positions on this flight, and later in the MOCR. Only one woman, Sharon Tilton, not pictured, had a MOCR position during Ascent. (NASA photo, scan provided by Bob Castle) Click to see larger image.

STS-2, November 1981

STS-2 Team Photo. Marianne is in middle of front row. (NASA Photo) Click to see larger image.

STS-3, March 1982

Carolynn Conley, STS-3 (NASA photo).

Carolynn Conley, first woman FAO © NASA

This photo of the STS-3 Entry Team includes many women who served in support rooms during the flight, including a very pregnant Mi-Mi in the front row. (NASA photo)Click to see larger image.

STS-4, June-July 1982

Marianne Dyson, Roy Bridges, Brewster Shaw © NASA

Later Flights

FAO Mi-Mi Lau hung the plaque on STS-8. Shown with Flight Director Gary Coen. (NASA photo)

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