NASA’s Jessica Watkins is set to make history as the first Black female astronaut to embark on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. The mission, called SpaceX Crew-4, is scheduled to launch on Wednesday, April 27th, at 3:52 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Selection and Career
Watkins, 33, was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017 and is a planetary geologist. She was one of twelve individuals chosen from a pool of 18,300 applicants. She began her career at NASA as an intern, working on research to support the Phoenix Mars Lander mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Legacy of the Black women astronauts
“I think it really is just a tribute to the legacy of the Black women astronauts that have come before me, as well as to the exciting future ahead. And so I’m just honored to be a small part of that legacy moving forward. You know, for me, growing up, it was important to me to have role models in roles that I aspired to be in, contributing in ways I aspired to contribute. So to the extent that I’m able to do that, I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to return the favor”, – she said.
Crew and Mission
Watkins will be serving as a mission specialist in a four-person crew on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft named Freedom. Alongside Watkins, the mission will include NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
Jessica Watkins’ upcoming mission to the International Space Station as the first Black female astronaut is a significant milestone in space exploration. Her selection as an astronaut candidate and her work as a planetary geologist serve as an inspiration to scientists.