Yep, New Horizons Really Did Make History

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Alice Bowman (SwRI / JHUAPL)

Over the summer, when New Horizons was making everybody fall in love with Pluto all over again, I wrote about the bad-ass team behind the mission. New Horizons was, several scientists believed, the mission with the most women in NASA history.

I interviewed a lot of people at the time who said they were sure that this was the case. But they hadn’t actually counted. Now they have.

After my story was published, Fran Bagenal, an astrophysicist who has worked on NASA missions since the 1970s, followed up to let me know she’d actually tallied up the men and women of New Horizons to confirm what many suspected. “This topic has just taken off!” Fran wrote to me. “We added up the number of women on the project contact list and it came up to 27 percent. That’s a really high percentage, certainly much higher than any other team.”