Jessica Watkins, First Black Woman Becomes ISS Crew

He will be launched into space in April 2022 on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Watkins was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017. Since then, he has been preparing for his first space mission.

The other three crew members on the mission include the astronauts NASA Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA). This is the fourth crew rotation flight from the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The team will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The astronauts will spend six months in the ISS microgravity laboratory conducting scientific research.

Prior to becoming an astronaut, Watkins attended Stanford University in California and earned bachelor’s degrees in geology and environmental sciences. Then he went on to get a doctorate in geology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Watkins started his career at NASA through an internship program. Previously, he held roles at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

He was a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity while working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

“Geology provided a means for me to study the surfaces of other planets and in particular see Mars which is my passion,” Watkins said in the NASA video. CNN, Monday (22/11).

A number of his NASA colleagues congratulated Watkins on his new role and journey into space. “Congratulations to my friend and teammate, Jessica Watkins. He will be an amazing crewmate for the @SpaceX Crew-4,” said NASA astronaut Jonny Kim.

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History of the pioneers

Countless people of color paved the way over the last half century for Watkins to achieve his dreams. Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. spent decades recruiting minority and female astronauts and went on to become the first black person to walk in space in 1995.

In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first black woman in space while on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Then in 2013, Victor Glover Jr. who was a member of the legislature in the US Senate, was elected an astronaut and became the first black person to hold long-term crew duty on the ISS. He was a crew member from 15 November 2020 to 2 May 2021.

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