Jessica Watkins to be the first black female astronaut on the International Space Station

  • Jessica Watkins will be the first black woman to live and work aboard the International Space Station.
  • Watkins will leave in April 2022 with three other astronauts and spend six months on the ISS.
  • She hopes her mission will set an example for young girls of color in “ways they can participate and be successful.”

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A 33-year-old NASA astronaut will be the first black woman to live and work on the International Space Station, NASA announced earlier this month.

Jessica Watkins will leave in April 2022 with three other astronauts – Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines of NASA, and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, according to NASA. She is posted as a mission specialist on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4, which will last six months.

This will be Watkins’ first time in space.

Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and raised in Lafayette, Colorado, The New York Times reported. She then obtained a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, followed by a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

The 33-year-old joined the class of astronaut candidates in 2017 where she completed a two-year training course. According to his biography on the NASA website, his training “included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction on International Space Station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training, water and wilderness survival training, geology training and expeditionary skills. coaching.”

Watkins told The Times that she hopes her mission will inspire children of color, and “especially young girls of color, to see an example of ways they can participate and be successful.”

“For me, this has been very important, and so if I can contribute in one way or another, it is really worth it,” she added.

Watkins is also expected to set foot on the moon with Team Artemis in 2024, according to Space.com. NASA astronauts have not been to the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

NASA sent the first black American, Guion S. Bluford, to space in 1983. Mae Jemison was the first black woman to enter space in 1992 with the Space Shuttle Endeavor team.

In 2018, astronaut Jeanette Epps was slated to become the first black woman to join the ISS crew, but NASA replaced her with Serena Auñón-Chancellor, the Times reported. It is not known why NASA made the change.

NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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