NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, 33, will soon make history as the first black woman to go to the International Space Station.
Together with three other crew members, she will leave on a mission next year and will therefore live and work in the ISS for six months.
Watskin, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017, will take on the role of mission specialist for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4, along with NASA’s Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
The rocket will be launched in April 2022. The team will conduct scientific experiments for six months, NASA announced earlier this month. Plus, it’s also Watkins’ first time travelling to space.
Watkins told The Times that she hopes to inspire children of colour and especially “young girls of colour. For me, that has been very important, so if I can contribute in some way to that, it’s definitely worth it,” she added.
The astronaut studied geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University and earned a doctorate in geology. Previously, Watkins worked for NASA’s science lab on projects including the Mars Curiosity rover mission. Becoming an astronaut was something I’ve dreamed of for a long time, but something I never thought would happen.
Watskin succeeds other African Americans who have already made history in space. For example, Bluford was the first African-American to fly into space on a mission in 1983. The first black woman to enter space was Dr Mae Jemison in 1992.