First African American on International Space Station: Jeanette Epps

Photo: Women’s Day

Jeanette Epps is an astronaut and aerospace engineer for NASA. With a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, she will be the first African American to live and work on the international space station! NASA announced its team of flight engineers from a very large pool of candidates. Her six-month expedition is slated to take place in May of 2018.

“I’ve been floored by the response,” she says. “I didn’t think that being the first African American person was all that important; we’re all doing the same work. But now I realize it’s important to acknowledge it, if not for myself, then for the millions of people who would really love to go to space. Once I get this over with, I hope it will no longer be something novel – we can just look to the future together.”

In the mean time, NASA has her on a rigorous training schedule that includes lessons in spacewalking and Russian wilderness survival. She is also spending tons of time underwater in a heavy space suit to simulate conditions on the space station.

Photo: NASA

She says she is most excited to look down and see the earth from afar. Something I, and I think most of us dream to see. “I can’t wait to see Earth from the window. An astronaut told me that when he looked at Earth from space, he didn’t see any borders. He just saw one planet and realized that everybody he loved in the world was there. It makes me wonder: will it change my perspective? I’m definitely going to come back with stories.”

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