Jan 21, 2011 5:09 PM by Ariel Wesler

First woman takes command at Vandenberg

A change of command took place this morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

After two years, Lieutenant General Larry James, the highest-ranking officer at Vandenberg, passed the torch to Major General Susan Helms. James was in charge of the Joint Fucntion Component Command for Space and the 14th Air Force. He will be leaving to serve at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. With the promotion, Helms becomes the first woman and former astronaut to hold the position at Vandenberg. She was promoted this morning from Major General to Lieutenant General, the second highest rank in the U.S. Air Force.

Helms is no stranger to firsts. In 1993, she became the first military woman in space. She has served on five space flights, including a spacewalk of eight hours and 56 minutes, a world record. In total, she has logged more than 200 days in space and in May will be inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida.

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