Defying Gravity, Part 4

The gURLs who Spacewalk

Spacewalking astronauts are big right now thanks to a certain blockbuster movie full of A-List Hollywood Stars. In preparing for her role in Gravity, actress Sandra Bullock turned to real-life astronaut Cady Coleman for advice about what life in space is really like. But the big screen is obviously nothing like the real thing.

Stepping outside of a spacecraft that is orbiting our planet at speeds of thousands (and thousands) of miles per hour is a frightening prospect. So who are the brave women that have actually performed this heroic work in real life?

To this day, eleven women have made the journey. The fourth was astronaut Linda M. Godwin.

Astronaut Linda M. Godwin, STS-108 mission specialist, is pictured near the end of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s remote manipulator system (RMS) arm during the four-hour session of extravehicular activity (EVA). Credit: NASA
Astronaut Linda M. Godwin, STS-76 mission specialist, changes into her extravehicular mobility unit space suit in the airlock. Credit: NASA

Linda M. Godwin

Linda Godwin performed two spacewalks, the first from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1996 (STS-76) and a second from Space Shuttle Endeavor en route to the ISS in  2001 (STS-108). With a total of four space missions under her belt, Godwin has spent a total of 38 days in space and over 10 hours on her EVAs. 

Now, Godwin is the Assistant to the Director for Exploration, Flight Crew Operations Directorate at the Johnson Space Center, and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Missouri.


“…It’s really a good feeling to know that we put this up there, that it’s working, that all these people’s plans that worked so hard came together and things fit and we’ve got a real space station.” – Linda Godwin on her contribution to the construction of the ISS, from


The flight crew of the STS-76 Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis; Cmdr. Kevin P. Chilton, Pilot Richard A. Searfoss, and Mission Specialists Linda M. Godwin, Michael R. Clifford, and Ronald M. Sega present an overview of their mission. Highlights STS-76 include the first spacewalk by U.S. astronauts while the shuttle is attached to the Russian Space Station Mir, and the transfer of Shannon W. Lucid to the Mir-21 crew, the first American woman to serve as a Mir station researcher. Video footage includes the following: prelaunch and launch activities; shuttle launch; in-orbit rendezous; in-orbit docking between Mir and the orbiter; general crew activities; tranfer of supplies; Godwin and Clifford’s EVA; undocking maneuvers; and the re-entry and landing of the orbiter. From the NASA STI Program.


Astronaut Linda M. Godwin, STS-108 mission specialist, works during a four-hour, 12-minute session of extravehicular activity (EVA). The main objective of the space walk was to install thermal blankets on mechanisms that rotate the International Space Station’s (ISS) main solar arrays. Credit: NASA