NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins becomes first black woman to complete six months on ISS

NASA astronaut, Dr. Jessica Watkins, 33, is poised to be the first black woman to complete a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS).

Watkins, who was elected an astronaut in 2017, is the latest member of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission, scheduled to take off in April 2022 and spend six months in orbit in a huge laboratory.

He joins NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines and European Space Agency (ESA) Samantha Cristoforet.

Watkins said New York Times he hopes going to the space station will set an example for colorful children and “especially for young colorful girls so they can see an example of the ways in which they can participate and succeed.”

“It’s been really important to me, and if I can get involved in it in any way, it’s definitely worth it,” he said in an interview with the newsletter.

In addition to being an astronaut, Watkins is also a geologist and played rugby while studying at Stanford University.

NASA astronaut, Dr. Jessica Watkins, 33, is set to be the first black woman to complete a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS)

NASA astronaut, Dr. Jessica Watkins, 33, is set to be the first black woman to complete a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS)

The ISS has had 249 people since the ship was commissioned in November 2000.

However, the first black astronaut did not board the ship until November 2020.

NASA astronaut Victor Glover became the first black man to live in a orbiting lab for a longer stay, a total of six months, when he fired for the ISS on a SpaceX Crew-1 mission last year.

Dr. Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut, was supposed to be the first black woman to live and work at the space station in 2018, but she was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight, says The Washington Post.

In addition to being an astronaut, Watkins is also a geologist and played rugby while studying at Stanford University (3rd from left)

In addition to being an astronaut, Watkins is also a geologist and played rugby while studying at Stanford University (3rd from left)

In June 2017, Watkins was elected a member of NASA Astronaut Group 22 and began his two-year training in August.  In December 2020, he was selected as part of the Artemis team to return people to the moon

In June 2017, Watkins was elected a member of NASA Astronaut Group 22 and began his two-year training in August. In December 2020, he was selected as part of the Artemis team to return people to the moon

Epps was ordered to fly a Boeing Starliner capsule to the station, but missions have been postponed until the end of 2022 due to a faulty set of valves.

This means that Watkins becomes the second black person and the first black woman to walk aboard.

Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but moved to Lafayette, Colorado at a young age and considers the mountainous state his home.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

While visiting Stanford, Watkins played rugby as a freshman and continued to play for the next four years.

NASA astronaut Victor Glover became the first black man to live in an orbiting lab for a longer stay, a total of six months, when he fired on the ISS in a SpaceX Crew-1 mission in November 2020.

NASA astronaut Victor Glover became the first black man to live in an orbiting lab for a longer stay, a total of six months, when he fired on the ISS in a SpaceX Crew-1 mission in November 2020.

Dr. Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut, was originally the first black woman to live and work at the space station in 2018, but was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight.  It is due to leave for the ISS later next year

Dr. Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut, was originally the first black woman to live and work at the space station in 2018, but was unexpectedly pulled from her June flight. It is due to leave for the ISS later next year

As a second student, Watkins became a member of the Division I championship team and is a former American national team rugby player at seven.

Watkins played in the USA Eagles in 3rd place in the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

During the World Cup, he was the best scorer on the U.S. team.

Watkins began as an intern at NASA and has worked at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

During his astronaut selection, he worked as a doctoral researcher in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where he collaborated as a member of the Curiosity science team at the Mars Science Laboratory ATV.

In June 2017, Watkins was elected a member of NASA Astronaut Group 22 and began his two-year training in August.

In December 2020, he was selected as part of the Artemis team to return people to the moon.

Most recently, he was selected as the fourth astronaut in Group 22 to be assigned to the ISS, where he will serve as an expert on the mission.

Watkins becomes the Fifth Black Woman in Space after Dr. Sian Proctor, who left for the world’s first civilian operation in September.

In this mission called Inspiration4, Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski spent three days in space orbiting the earth.

The first black astronaut in space was Guin S. Bluford in 1983 and the first black woman was Mae Jemison in 1992.

Jemison only spent eight days in space, and neither had an ISS because it hadn’t been built yet.

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