Just in time for the nationwide release of Hidden Figures, astronaut Jeanette Epps made history as she will be the first Black astronaut to board the International Space Station, says the Huffington Post. The journey will be Epps’ first flight into space.
Epps may not the first Black NASA astronaut in this country—there have been 14 over the years—but she is the first one to be a crew member on the coveted ISS team. She is also the 13th woman to take on this role as well.
“Each space station crew brings something different to the table, and Drew and Jeanette both have a lot to offer,” Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a NASA press release. He added: “The space station will benefit from having them on board.”
In a past interview with the Lenny Letter, she stressed how excited she was about her 6-month stint in space.
“It’s unreal,” Epps said. “Even now that it’s close, I’m like, ‘I won’t believe it until I’m there.’”
When asked who were role models, she replied: “There were people like Guy Bluford, the first African American in space. But mostly, it was my mother. She thought that educating yourself was the way to go. If you educated yourself, you never had to worry about anything. Still, no one in my immediate family was an engineer or a doctor or anything like that. She said this funny thing to me and my sister when we finished graduate school: that she was surprised. She said, ‘Man, my biggest hope for you guys was that you would become secretaries, and look at you now!’”
Not surprisingly, Epps has a stellar resume. According to her NASA profile, the Syracuse, New York, native earned a Bachelor’s degree in physics from LeMoyne College in 1992 and completed a Master’s of science in 1994 and doctorate in aerospace engineering 2000, both from the University of Maryland. In 2002, Epps joined the CIA and worked as a technical intelligence officer for seven years.
Epps will join astronaut Andrew Feustel as a flight engineer on the Expedition 56 in May 2018.
Congrats Jeanette! #BlackGirlMagic is definitely on and poppin’ in 2017!