This exhibition commemorates the life and accomplishments of Rockford astronaut Janice Voss.
Dr. Janice Voss, astronaut, was a longtime friend and supporter of Discovery Center and considered Rockford her hometown. She visited the museum several times and gave fascinating presentations to Discovery Center visitors and staff about her work in space. This exhibition features many artifacts donated by the Voss family, as well as items from Janice herself.
Among the donated items are one of Voss’s flight suits, the Illinois flag she took on one of her missions in space and dedicated to Discovery Center, and the hand impression she made on one of her visits to our museum. The exhibition also features the helmet Voss wore on all her training missions in a T-38. There is a video Discovery Center created from hours of footage shot in space during Voss’s missions. Much of the video features Voss herself describing the missions, the experiments the astronauts conducted in space, and breathtaking shots of Earth. In the video, you can see where and how astronauts sleep, wash their hair and shave, exercise and even dance!
In addition to the artifacts in the exhibition, there is also an interactive station where you can design a mission patch to take home. Before each shuttle mission, crews worked together to create a patch capturing the essence of their mission. You can view all five of Voss’s mission patches.
Below is a brief recap of her journey from childhood dreams of space travel to making her dreams come true:
Janice Voss was an engineer and a NASA astronaut. She flew in space five times, jointly holding the record for American women. Born in South Bend, Indiana, Janice considered Rockford her hometown. She attended Maud E. Johnson Elementary and Guilford Center School in Rockford, Illinois from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Janice Voss was accepted into the astronaut corps in January 1990. She logged more than 49 days in space, traveling 18.8 million miles in 779 Earth orbits. She served aboard STS-57 in 1993, STS-63 in 1995, STS-83 and STS-94 in 1997 and STS-99 in 2000.
During her career as an astronaut, she participated in the first Shuttle rendezvous with the Mir space station on STS-63: it flew around the station, testing communications and inflight maneuvers for later missions. As the STS-99 Payload Commander on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, she and her fellow crew members worked continuously in shifts to produce what was at the time the most accurate digital topographical map of the Earth.
From October 2004 to November 2007, she was Science Director for NASA's Kepler Space Observatory, an Earth-orbiting satellite designed to find Earth-like extrasolar planets in nearby solar systems.
Dr. Janice Voss died in 2012.