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Princess Cruises Celebrates NASA Women in Sky Princess Naming

Poppy Northcutt, Captain Heikki Laakkonen, Captain Kay Hire and Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz celebrate the christening of Sky Princess during the naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Poppy Northcutt, Captain Heikki Laakkonen, Captain Kay Hire and Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz celebrate the christening of Sky Princess during the naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

By The Maritime Executive 12-08-2019 07:21:41

Princess Cruises named its newest ship, Sky Princess, on Saturday, paying tribute to the pioneering women of the U.S. Space Program.

Princess Cruises chose the theme of Reach for the Sky for the occasion, and honored two women of NASA for their achievements in the U.S. space program: Captain Kay Hire, and engineer Poppy Northcutt, who served as the godmothers of Sky Princess.

Captain Hire began her 30-year NASA career as a mechanical systems engineer, helping to launch more than 40 space missions. Then, as an astronaut, she logged 700 hours in space, flew over 12 million miles, and orbited the earth 475 times. She was the first female assigned to a military combat flight crew while serving in the U.S. Navy, and she retired from the U.S. Navy with more 35 years of service. 

Poppy Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon. When the crew of Apollo 13 became stranded in their service module, it was her team's calculations that brought them home safely – a feat of heroism that earned the entire mission operations a Presidential Medal of Freedom Team Award.

Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognized two Sky Princess female officers who embody the Reach for the Sky theme: Kerry Ann Wright, who started working in the cruise industry as a spa technician and went back to school to rise through the ranks to become a Second Officer working on the bridge; and Chief Security Officer Susan Morgan, who is the longest serving woman in the British Royal Navy.

Additional women of NASA recognized for their unwavering quest to Reach for the Sky in a tribute video, included:

• The first woman of color to travel to outer space Dr. Mae Jemison.
• The first Hispanic woman in space who later became Director of the Johnson Space Center Dr. Ellen Ochoa.
• The first woman to command the Space Shuttle Eileen Collins.
• The first woman to command the International Space Stations Peggy Whiston.
• The first woman to join a spacewalk Kathryn D. Sullivan.

The 143,700-ton, 3,660-guest Sky Princess recently completed her inaugural season in Europe and is now sailing on voyages to the Caribbean through spring 2020. She represents an evolution of the design platform used for her sister Royal-Class ships - Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess

The debut of Sky Princess marks the first MedallionClass newbuild. The Princess Cruises fleet continues to expand with Enchanted Princess due in June 2020, Discovery Princess in November 2021 and two new LNG ships in 2023 and 2025.