First Black Woman to Join International Space Station as Astronaut

Jeanette J. Epps became the first Black woman astronaut for NASA in 2009. In 2021, she’ll be first Black woman to live and work on the International Space Station , making history yet again

Earlier this week NASA shared that Jeanette’s assignment is none other than the Boeing Starliner-1 mission, making this her first flight into space.

The spaceflight will be the first for Epps, who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.

While earning her doctorate, Epps was a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, authoring several journal and conference articles on her research. After completing graduate school, she worked in a research laboratory for more than two years, co-authoring several patents, before the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited her. She spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before her selection as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

“NASA assigned Williams and Cassada to the Starliner-1 mission in August 2018. The spaceflight will be the first for Cassada and third for Williams, who spent long-duration stays aboard the space station on Expeditions 14/15 and 32/33.”

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Epps took to social media to share the news:

“I’m super excited to join Suni Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crewed mission to the International Space Station,” she said in a video shared on Twitter, where she has more than 40,000 followers. “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.”