Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The name of Syracuse University grad Eileen Collins is now forever enshrined alongside some of the greatest in the U.S. space program. Collins has been formally inducted into the United States Astronauts Hall of Fame.
Her years growing up in Elmira and attending college in Elmira and at Syracuse University helped lead her into history.
When inducted, Collins wore the same outfit she wore to her astronaut interview years ago, which she says was the closest blue she could find to NASA blue. She decided it was the perfect thing to wear to her induction.
"I'm so much more comfortable going out on the launch pad and launching on 600 million pounds of control thrust than I am getting up in front of a group of people,” Collins said.
Collins carved out her own place in U.S. space program history logging four space flights, but most importantly, becoming the first woman shuttle commander and in 2005 leading the shuttle’s return flight two and half years after the shuttle Columbia disaster. Lofty heights she could only dream of as a young girl raised in Elmira.
"Elmira, New York, is the home of the National Soaring Museum, so when I was a child at summer camp, watching the gliders soar, I never had a chance to fly until I was an adult, but just knowing that opportunity was there and watching the gliders soar in the clouds it was just something I wanted to do,” Collins said.
Collins graduated from Syracuse University in 1978 with a math and economics degree. From there she went on to the Air Force, where she was eventually accepted into the astronaut program.
It took her far from her Upstate upbringing, but it was from here that she started on her path to science.
“I didn't have some big expensive program that I was involved in, I just learned to love flying through simple everyday life,” Collins continued.
Collins was already a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, where she is recognized for her pioneering work like so many others enshrined in Seneca Falls. Now, with several Hall of Fame astronauts there to see, Collins officially has her rightful place among the greats who have come through the American space program.