First Black Woman Astronaut Joins NASA ISS

Set to make history as the first Black woman astronaut to live and work on the International Space Station for an extended period of time, Jeanette Epps, has been assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission. 

Epps will take part in a six-month expedition aboard the orbiting space laboratory set to launch in 2021, NASA announced in a press release on Tuesday (Aug. 25). Epps will join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada who were assigned to the Starliner-1 mission in August 2018. 

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“I’m super excited to join Suni Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crewed mission to the International Space Station,” Epps said in a video shared on her Twitter. 

“I’ve flown in helicopters with Suni flying and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T-38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with, so I’m looking forward to the mission.”

The former NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow earned her bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in science and a doctorate in aerospace engineering. Before becoming a member of the 2009 astronaut class, the 49-year-old also worked for the CIA as a technical intelligence officer for seven years. 

Based on NASA’s current schedule, the first Black male astronaut to live and work on the ISS is likely to be Victor Glover, who is set to board the SpaceX Crew-1 mission on Oct. 23.

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