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Jeanette Epps Will Be First Black Woman on Long-Term ISS Crew

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps has just been selected to join a crewed flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021. If the flight occurs and is successful, Epps will work aboard the ISS for six months. This achievement would not only mark Epps’ first trip into space, but also the first time a Black woman has served as a long-term member of the orbiting lab’s crew.

NASA recently announced its assignment of Epps to the crew of the agency’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission. The Starliner-1 mission, which is set to launch in mid-2021, will be the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s “CST-100 Starliner” spacecraft. (Starliner, like SpaceX’s Dragon, is a reusable crew capsule that carries astronauts to space.)

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We passed our exams! 🚀💫🙏🏽

A post shared by Jeanette Epps, PhD (@jeanette.epps) on

Epps, who first joined NASA as a Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, was selected for the agency’s 2009 astronaut class. Prior to her work with NASA, Epps spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer. Epps also has a bachelor’s degree in physics, a doctorate in aerospace engineering, and stands as co-author on several patents. She even helped Ford to make its cars safer.

Epps will join NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams on the Starliner-1 mission. The mission will also be a first for Cassada, but the third for Williams, who’s spent multiple long-duration stays aboard the ISS.

“I’m super excited to join Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crew mission to the International Space Station,” Epps said on Twitter. “They are both wonderful people to work with, so I’m looking forward to the mission,” the astronaut added.

What do you think about Jeanette Epps serving as the first Black woman to join the long-term ISS crew? And how do you think the Starliner mission will compare to SpaceX’s recent Dragon demo? Let’s talk about making space history in the comments, people!

Feature image: NASA