London, Apr 5 (IANS): Space is about to have an explosion in female population, with four women set to be in orbit at the same time.
This week NASA will attempt to launch three women to the International Space Station, where they will join another woman already circling earth in a Russian capsule and it will be the most women in space at one time, reports dailymail.co.uk.
The astronauts are a former schoolteacher, a chemist who once worked as an electrician and two aerospace engineers.
Americans Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will launch with Discovery's seven-strong crew Monday.
Wilson, 43, said she hoped the number of women in space would increase.
"I think that we have made a great start and have paved the way with women now being able to perform the same duties as men in spaceflight," said Wilson.
Wilson became the second black woman in space in 2006.
The crew will spend 13 days in space, hauling up big spare parts, experiments and other supplies to the nearly completed space station.
Yamazaki will become the second Japanese woman to fly in space.
The women will join American Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who was launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan Friday with two Russian male astronauts.
Dyson will arrive Sunday and stay at the space station for six months.
The 40-year-old has a doctorate in chemistry and grew up in Southern California assisting her electrician father.
She was inspired by former schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, who was killed along with six others aboard Challenger in 1986.
Men still outnumber women by more than two to one aboard the shuttle and space station.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the world's first space traveller in 1961, and he was followed two years later by world's first spacewoman, fellow Soviet Valentina Tereshkova.