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Anne McClain in training
NASA astronaut Anne McClain keeps her eye on the Magic 8 Ball during zero-G training on NASA’s “vomit comet” airplane in 2014. The toy served as a mascot for the eight astronauts in the class of 2013, who were nicknamed the “8 Balls.” (Credit: NASA via @AstroAnnimal)

That’s one small step for NASA’s women astronauts, one giant leap for Glamour magazine.

Women have had a hard time getting their just deserts when it comes to human spaceflight: The “Mercury 13” were passed over in the early 1960s, and that was just the start. In 2005, a top Russian space medicine official said women were too weak to take on a trip to Mars. Just in the past year and a half, women astronauts have had to fend off questions about hair styling and makeup.

Glamour’s interview with NASA’s newest women astronauts – Nicole Aunapu Mann, Anne McClain, Jessica Meir and Christina Hammock Koch – could easily have gone off in the same direction. After all, the biggest headline on the magazine’s February cover is “Best Hair Year Yet!”

But the astronauts don’t even mention fashion or workout tips. Instead, it’s all about following through on childhood dreams, learning how to cope with rides on the “vomit comet” airplane, and talking about the challenges they’ll face during a trip to Mars.

“If we go to Mars, we’ll be representing our entire species in a place we’ve never been before,” McClain told Glamour. “To me it’s the highest thing a human being can achieve.”

Note: Not “mankind” or “womanhood.” Human beings.

The four females are part of the astronaut class of 2013, the first class to be evenly divided between men and women. They haven’t been assigned to spaceflights yet, but at least some of them are likely to be on duty when NASA starts sending astronauts beyond Earth orbit in the 2020s.

In the meantime, NASA is accepting applications for the astronaut class of 2017. The deadline for applying is Feb. 18. Do you have the right stuff?

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