In the first class at Vance Air Force Base to include women, and remained at Vance as a T-38 instructor pilot.
Assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado 1986 to 1989, where she was an assistant professor in mathematics and a T-41 instructor pilot.
In July 1991, Collins became an astronaut. She went on to serve as Pilot aboard STS-63 and STS-84, and Commander aboard STS-93 and STS-114, logging over 872 hours in space. The deployment of the Chandra X-Ray on the STS-93 mission was, in Collins opinion, the most rewarding stating,”the thousands of people involved in the project and launch proved the high skill level and teamwork involved is truly a powerful thing”
Became the first woman to Command a space shuttle flight.
In July 2005, Collins was selected to serve as Commander on the Return-to-Flight mission, STS-114, the first after the tragic loss of the Columbia crew and orbiter. In the years leading up to the mission, Collins and her crew were involved in research to make the Space Shuttle safer and more operationally efficient.