Astronaut Janice Voss dies in Arizona

(Reuters) - Former Astronaut Janice E. Voss, one of the few women launched into space, has died of breast cancer in Arizona, her alma mater said on Tuesday.

Voss, 55, died on Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she was receiving treatment, Purdue University said in a news release.

She had logged five space flights with NASA, spending a total of 49 days in orbit and traveling 18.8 million miles in 779 laps of the Earth.

Born in South Bend, Indiana, Voss earned her bachelor's degree in engineering science at Purdue and then gained a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She became an astronaut in 1991, blasting into space for the first time two years later. She took part in space missions in 1995, two in 1997 and the last in 2000.

Her final mission was an 11-day flight during which the international crew aboard shuttle Endeavour mapped more than 47 million square miles of the Earth's land surface.

After her final space mission, Voss continued to work for NASA on payload issues, and used her cachet as an astronaut to encourage students to study science and math.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

(Reporting By Tim Gaynor; Editing by Paul Thomasch)


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