If you’re packing for an interplanetary space mission—one that’s very long and might involve populating a faraway world—sending an all-female astronaut crew could be an intelligent choice.
Before you raise an eyebrow at the prospect, remember that NASA recruited and flew only all-male crews for decades. In fact, in the 58 years that Earthlings have launched humans into orbit, about 11 percent of them—63 individuals—have been women.
“An all-female mission tends to be something that NASA has avoided in assignments because it seems like a stunt,” says Margaret Weitekamp, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum. But in some ways, women are potentially better suited for space travel than men.