Meet the first Black woman to join the International Space Station (ISS) crew!
Jessica Watkins is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut who will make history with her debut spaceflight. She is set to become the first Black woman to not only join the space station crew but also live and work in space for a long-duration mission on the orbiting outpost, according to TODAY. She will make her journey starting April 2022 aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule from the NASA Kennedy Space Center located in Cape Canaveral, FL.
It is anticipated that the mission, known as Crew-4, will last six months. For Watkins, this is just yet another leap to making her dreams come true. Last December, NASA released a video where the geologist revealed that she had her eyes on a moon mission.
“A dream feels like a big, faraway goal that is going to be difficult to achieve and something that you might achieve much later in life,” she said, according to NBC News. “But in reality, what a dream is — or a dream realized is — is just putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. And if you put enough of those footprints together, eventually they become a path towards your dreams.”
As previously reported by AfroTech, NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps was set to become the first Black astronaut — man or woman — to launch on an extended mission at the space station. However, she was replaced out of the blue in just under six months prior to the flight. While NASA never gave an explanation on the unexpected switch, Epps’ brother cited racism as the cause.
Now, Watkins is a part of the company’s select group of NASA astronauts that will lead the agency’s multibillion-dollar Artemis program. The program is on a mission to return humans to the moon and a huge part of the goal is to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon by 2025.
Watkins will join NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines as well as European Space Agency astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti on the Crew-4 mission next year.