By Richard Sandomir
Millie Hughes-Fulford, NASA’s first female payload specialist, who conducted biomedical experiments on the physical toll of spaceflight on humans on board the space shuttle Columbia in 1991, died on Feb. 2 at her home in Mill Valley, Calif. She was 75.
The cause was cancer, her daughter, Tori Herzog, said. Dr. Hughes-Fulford had received a diagnosis of lymphoma in 2014, and cancer had recently been found in her esophagus.
Dr. Hughes-Fulford had aspired to fly to outer space since childhood. She achieved her goal on the Columbia in June 1991, eight years after Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, flew on the Challenger.
The experiments Dr. Hughes-Fulford conducted on the shuttle were only the start of her yearslong examination into the effects of weightlessness on the body’s immune system and bone mass. Read more …