JESSICA WATKINS

JESSICA WATKINS

Photo by: Bill Stafford - NASA - JSC

Bill Stafford - NASA - JSC

NASA's Jessica Watkins to be first Black Female Astronaut to Spend Six Months in Space

By: Discovery

At age 33, Watkins will soon make history as the first Black woman to join the International Space Station on an extended mission. She will serve as a mission specialist in a four-person crew on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft named Freedom.

NASA is getting ready for the SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station, and that includes the first Black female astronaut to have a six-month stay.

Liftoff is scheduled no earlier than Wednesday, April 27 at 3:52 a.m. EDT, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Watkins was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2017. A planetary geologist, she was one of twelve chosen from a pool of 18,300 applicants. She began her career at NASA as an intern, conducting research to support the Phoenix Mars Lander mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

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Watkins said of the milestone "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."

The SpaceX Crew-4 mission is carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

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