NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will make history as the first black woman on the International Space Station crew.
According to CNN, Watkins will launch into space in April 2022 on the Space Crew-4 mission, NASA reports.
The astronaut was selected among candidates in 2017 and had been prepping for the historical event ever since.
The other three crew members on the mission will include NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines as the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti.
“In a report from the space agency, this is the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.”
The team will blast into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, located in Merrit Island, Florida. The astronaut will reportedly spend six months in the ISS microgravity laboratory conducting scientific research, NASA noted.
Watkins is a Stanford University graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then earned a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The astronaut has an extensive history with NASA; she started her career as an intern and previously held roles at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, CNN reports.
Watkins was a member of the science team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. She also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“Geology provided a means for me to study the surface of another planet and particularly look at Mara, which was my passion, Jessica Watkins said in a NASA video.
Fellow NASA colleagues congratulated Watkins on her historical new role and an upcoming trip to space.
NASA astronaut Jonny Kim said, “More Turtles in space! Congrats to my friend and teammate, Jessica Watkins. She’s going to be an amazing crewmate @SpaceX Crew-4.”
— Jonny Kim (@JonnyKimUSA) November 17, 2021
As an associate administrator for the Space Operations Mission Directorate, Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, said, “Congrats to @NASA_Astronauts’ Jessica Watkins! She’s been chosen to join @astro_kjell, @Astro_FarmerBob, and @esa’s @AstroSamantha on the upcoming @SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the @Space_Station.”
Congrats to @NASA_Astronauts’ Jessica Watkins! She’s been chosen to join @astro_kjell, @Astro_FarmerBob, and @esa’s @AstroSamantha on the upcoming @SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the @Space_Station. https://t.co/gHJP92huLH
— Kathy Lueders (@KathyLueders) November 17, 2021
Other Black trailblazers paved the way for Watkins to fulfill her extraterrestrial dreams as an astronaut.
“Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. spent decades recruiting minority and female astronauts and would later become the first Black person to walk in space in 1995.”
“Dr. Mae Jemison became the first Black woman in space while aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992.”
In 2013, Victor Glover Jr., a member of the US Senate, was selected as an astronaut and became the first Black person to hold a long-duration crew assignment on the ISS. He was a crew member from November 15, 2020, to May 2, 2021.