Black Women Astronaut Will Be First to Visit Space Center

By: Sonya Mallard

Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut, will soon make history as the first-ever Black woman to fly to the International Space Station on a mission into orbit. It will also be her first space flight in her career. Jeanette Epps, who is from Syracuse, New York, earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College. She then attended the University of Maryland, College Park where she received a Masters in 1994 and a Doctorate in 2000 for Aerospace Engineering. She was also a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow while pursuing her doctorate degree, where she authored several journals and conference articles on her research. After finishing her graduate school, she worked as a technical specialist in Ford’s Scientific Research Laboratory for 2 years, co-authoring several patents. She then served as a technical intelligence officer in the CIA for 7 years.

In 2009, she was one of the nine selected people to become a NASA astronaut. Moreover, she would have made history earlier in 2018 as the first Black woman to live on the ISS, but was later reassigned for undisclosed reasons. Now, Jeanette Epps has been assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station. She will be joining NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition which is set to launch in 2021.

The importance of having your children involved with the STEM program in their early years enables young Black children to make those vital connections between everyday life and the STEM disciplines. It also lays down the foundations for future academic success because the skills learned are transferable to other subjects. When we expose our children to education, we are giving them knowledge of the world around us. It develops in them a perspective of looking at life. It helps young children build opinions and have points of view on things in life. Besides, maybe one day we will not have to say, he or she is the first Black anymore. We can simply say, Astronaut.